UN Human Rights Council told of atrocities against civilians in Syria

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Press Encounter with Mr. Paulo Pinheiro, Chairman of the Commission of the Inquiry on Syria. [UN Photo/Rick Bajornas]

The International Commission of Inquiry on Syria says it was conducting its own independent investigations to establish who was to blame for the August 21 chemical attack in Damascus.

Addressing the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, Commission Chairman Sérgio Pinheiro said it was within the commission’s mandate to establish who is to blame for the alleged chemical attack.

He said civilians across Syria face daily indiscriminate shelling and bombardment by Government forces, while extremist anti-Government armed groups have targeted civilians in attacks across the northern governorates.

Many towns and villages remain besieged, while torture is systematically employed in Government detention centres.

Mr Pinheiro said neither government forces nor opposition fighters were respecting the rules of engagement during war which require that civilian areas and civilian installations such as hospitals be spared from bombardment.

“We are investigating 14 alleged cases of chemical agents or chemical weapons use. But we have not yet established the responsibility or the nature of the materials that were used. We need to enter Syria. There is no doubt that this is the mandate of this commission and if it's the mandate we are supposed to perform this mandate. Failure to bring about a settlement has allowed the conflict not only to deepen in its intransigence but also to widen – expanding to new actors and to unimaginable crimes. Neither law nor decency has restrained the behaviour of the parties. Influential states have an obligation to ensure that the parties to the conflict comply with the laws of war. "

The Commission welcomed steps taken to remove chemical weapons from Syria, adding that the efforts provide a glimpse of hope for broader negotiation leading to a political settlement of the conflict.

Patrick Maigua, United Nations Radio, Geneva.

Duration 2.02″

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