Syrians subjected to sieges and starvation

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Paulo Pinheiro, Chairperson of the Commission of Inquiry on Syria

Hundreds of thousands of civilians are besieged in Syria and subjected to relentless shelling and bombardment, according to the latest report of the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic.

The report says civilians are systematically denied access to humanitarian aid, food and basic necessities such as medical care, and must choose between surrender and starvation.

The commission says Syrian forces and pro-government militia continue to conduct widespread attacks on civilians, systematically committing murder, torture, rape and enforced disappearance and using children in hostilities.

For the first time the commission says opposition groups were also committing war crimes including murder, execution without due process, torture, hostage-taking, rape, sexual violence, recruiting and using children in hostilities.

The commission's chairman Paulo Sérgio Pinheiro, says failure by the international community and the UN Security Council to take action to end impunity has provided the space for the proliferation of actors in Syria, each pursuing its own agenda and contributing to the radicalization and escalation of violence.

"Among the most devastating events we documented was the campaign of barrel bombing in Aleppo targeting entire areas and spreading terror among civilians. There is an increase in child recruitment among several non-state armed groups. Children are not only involved in the armed conflict, but they have been targeted by snipers. The Syrians we met a few days ago fell abandoned and hopeless. While we most welcome the start of peace talks in Geneva, we have consistently repeated the mantra that there is no military solution for this crisis, only an inclusive negotiated solution can end this conflict. States that exert influence on parties in Syria must act to ensure that these parties comply with the rules of international humanitarian law. The Security Council bears responsibility for not addressing accountability and allowing the warring parties to violate these rules with total impunity."

Mr. Pinheiro says the commission is updating its confidential list of suspected perpetrators of war crimes in Syria which is deposited with the UN Human Rights office.

Despite several requests, the commission is yet to be granted access to visit Syria.

Patrick Maigua, United Nations, Geneva.

Duration 2:21″

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