U.N.: ISIS commits war crimes, Syrian govt using poison gas
U.N. report: ISIS poses a clear and present danger to civilians and particularly minorities
The United Nations accused Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) militants on Wednesday of committing war crimes including amputations and public executions, sometimes in the presence of children, and said it believed Damascus had used chlorine gas in combating its enemies.
The Sunni militants, who are bringing weapons from Iraq, have changed the power balance in Syria, consolidating control over large areas and establishing order by imposing harsh sharia law, the U.N. said in its latest report.
“Executions in public spaces have become a common spectacle on Fridays in al Raqqa and ISIS-controlled areas of Aleppo governorate (province),” the report said.
“Children have been present at the executions, which take the form of beheading or shooting in the head at close range... Bodies are placed on public display, often on crucifixes, for up to three days, serving as a warning to local residents.”
The independent investigators voiced deep concern about boys forced to join the ranks of ISIS who are being trained in camps in Syria that could be targeted by U.S. air strikes.
U.S. President Barack Obama vowed “justice will be done” against the ISIS killers of American journalist James Foley on Tuesday as the United States sought to identify targets for potential air strikes in Syria.
“We are aware ... of the presence of children in training camps, I think that this decision by the United States must respect the laws of war and we are concerned about the presence of these children,” Paulo Pinheiro, chairman of the U.N. commission of inquiry, told a news briefing in Geneva.
“ISIS poses a clear and present danger to civilians and particularly minorities under its control in Syria and in the region,” Pinheiro said.
Syrian government forces have dropped barrel bombs on civilian areas, a war crime under international law, including some believed to contain the poison gas chlorine in eight incidents in April, the investigators said in latest report.
Previously they had only been able to conclude that the chemicals came from Syrian government stockpiles.
“We’ve looked at eight instances of alleged chlorine attacks and we found specifically that according to our evidentiary test, they were dropped - the chlorine came with the barrel bombs - dropped from government helicopters particularly onto civilian areas,” said Vitit Muntarbhorn, a commissioner.
The conflict, which began with peaceful protests against President Bashar al-Assad in March 2011, has become multi-faceted with more groups involved and many front lines, said Muntarbhorn.
“It’s fragmented, it’s vicious, and there are cross-border implications,” he said.
More than 191,000 people were killed in the first three years of the war, a U.N. report said last week.
Syria’s military and air force continue to commit serious violations, including aerial bombardment and barrel bombing particularly of Aleppo, Deraa and Rural Damascus, Pinheiro said.
“There has been also an increase in reports of enforced disappearances, sexual assaults in detention centres and the arrest of male relatives of wanted persons,” he said.
Deaths in custody in Syrian jails are on the rise and forensic analysis of 26,948 photographs allegedly taken from 2011-2013 in government detention centres back its “longstanding findings of systematic torture and deaths of detainees.”
“Forced truces, a mark of the government’s strategy of siege and bombardment, are often followed by mass arrests of men of fighting age, many of whom disappear,” it said.
The U.N. report, the commission of inquiry’s eighth since being set up exactly three years ago, is based on 480 interviews and documentary evidence gathered by its team, which is trying to build a case for future criminal prosecution.
Islamic forces, which are also sweeping through neighboring Iraq in their bid to establish a cross-border caliphate, have drawn more experienced and ideologically motivated foreign fighters and established control over large areas in northern and eastern Syria, particularly oil-rich Deir al-Zor, it said.
The investigators, who include former U.N. crimes prosecutor Carla del Ponte, have already drawn up four confidential lists of suspects whom they believe should face international justice.
In the report, they reiterated their call for the U.N. Security Council to refer violations in Syria to the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC).
“We still hope that by holding all this evidence in our archives, one day a prosecutor’s office can use it to conduct a formal inquiry and prepare indictments,” del Ponte said.
Video: Sotloff’s mother appeals to ISIS leaderMother of Steven Sotloff addresses her appeal to ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi Middle East
15 Australian fighters ‘killed’ in Iraq and SyriaCanberra has expressed alarm that around 60 Australians have joined violent ... Middle East
Barzani: Iran gave weapons to Iraq's KurdsISIS militants have clashed with Kurdish peshmerga fighters in recent weeks and ... Middle East
Egyptian female activist defecates on ISIS flagIn the photo, al-Mahdy is shown facing the camera while the other unidentified ... Variety
New ISIS Twitter campaign spurs hashtag warThe rise of #StevensHeadinObamasHands’s popularity prompted moderate users to ... Digital
Developer drops ‘ISIS’ name of luxury Florida condosA planned South Florida condo that shared its name with ISIS is getting a new ... Variety
Saudi Arabia busts cell of ISIS recruitersThe interior ministry says it detained eight individuals for allegedly trying to ... Middle East
Assad, ISIS committing war crimes: U.N.Executions in public spaces have become a common spectacle on Fridays in Syria's ... Middle East
ISIS wants a five-star ticket to publicity. It gets it.The whole kidnapping and execution cycle is a lucrative and profitable business ... Middle East Opinion
American man suspected of fighting with ISIS in Syria is killedDouglas McAuthur McCain is suspected of fighting with ISIS Middle East
1800GMT: Saudi ministry arrests cell of ISIS recruitersNews Bulletins
U.S. hostage by Islamic State is female aid workerThe woman is one of at least three known hostages of ISIS Middle East
Experts: West unlikely to seek Assad’s help against ISISExperts say Western countries are expected to change their policy toward Syria, ... Analysis
Egypt’s Dar al-Ifta: ISIS extremists not ‘Islamic State’The campaign is aimed at fighting the extremist ideology of Islamist militants in ... Middle East
Australia pledges $60m to tackle ISIS threat'Recent images of brutal killings in Syria and the brazen presence of Australian ... World News
Does Russia hold the key to the ISIS crisis?The ISIS crisis is the most dangerous phenomenon in the midterm perspective World
Has ISIS eclipsed al-Qaeda?Being able to learn from Al-Qaeda enabled the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria to ... Analysis
Obama ‘okays’ surveillance flights over SyriaPentagon officials have been drafting potential options for the president, ... Middle East