Most Syrians killed in unlawful conventional attacks: UN

Geneva, Sep 17 (IANS/WAM) A vast majority of Syrians have been killed in unlawful attacks through use of conventional weapons such as guns and mortars, with children making up a large proportion of the casualties, the United Nations-appointed human rights probe has reported.

"Arms transfers should not occur where there is a real risk that they will be used in the commission of crimes against humanity, violations of international humanitarian law, or war crimes. In Syria, this is a tragic reality," Paulo Pinheiro, the chairman of the International Commission of Inquiry on Syria said Monday as he introduced the report to the UN Human Rights Council.

He noted that civilians continued to face daily indiscriminate shelling and bombardment by government forces, and that extremist anti-government groups have targeted civilians in attacks across the northern governorates.

Pinheiro noted that the latest diplomatic efforts in Geneva involving Russia and the US aimed at removing the arsenal "may form the bedrock of a broader negotiation leading to a political settlement of the conflict".

He said the vast majority of the conflict's casualties result from unlawful attacks using conventional weapons such as guns and mortars.

"The government has continued its relentless campaign of air bombardment and artillery shelling across the country," he said.

Since July 15, the commission documented unlawful attacks in 12 of the 14 governorates, with particularly intense shelling in the cities of Damascus, Homs and Aleppo and surrounding areas.

Cluster munitions continue to be dropped on civilian areas, notably in Idlib governorate, Pinheiro said highlighting some of the findings since the latest report was produced by the commission.

Those include an attack on a school in Awram al-Koubra, Aleppo countryside, where the Syrian government dropped an incendiary bomb Aug 26, according to accounts from survivors of the attack.

Eight students died in the blaze that followed with 50 others suffering fatal burns over up to 80 percent of their bodies.

"There is no evidence of any opposition fighters or lawful targets near the school," the Commission concluded.

Government forces continued to launch attacks on medical personnel and hospitals, according to a separate paper titled 'Assault of Medical Care in Syria'.

"The discriminatory denial of the right to health as a weapon of war has been a chilling feature of this conflict," the commission reported, adding that the sanctity of medical care is disrespected and the sick and wounded are targeted.

Attacks on hospitals have occurred as recently as Sep 12, when government planes attacked a field hospital near Aleppo city, reportedly killing 11 people, and wounding dozens more.

Anti-government armed groups also launched attacks on medical personnel and hospitals, the commission stated. On Aug 16, fighters affiliated to Jabhat Al Nusra and Islamic State of Iraq and Al-Sham attacked a Kurdish Red Crescent ambulance in the Aleppo governorate killing the driver, a patient and a paramedic.

Syria has become an increasingly dangerous place for journalists to work, Pinheiro said, noting a "disturbing pattern of harassment, arrest and detention" of journalists, especially foreigners.

In the last six weeks, reports have been received of journalists kidnapped by extremist anti-government armed groups.

The head of the commission also noted an "upsurge in crimes and abuses" across northern Syria committed by extremist anti-government armed groups.

Established by the UN Human Rights Council in 2011, the commission is mandated to investigate and record all violations of international human rights law during the Syria conflict.

The commission is due to make public Wednesday its latest report based on 258 interviews and other evidence collected during the two-month period between May 15 and July 15 this year.

--IANS/WAM

ab/

Matches

MORE TOP STORIES TODAY

Time for Chennai to enter familiar cocoon

Time for Chennai to enter familiar cocoon

Chennai have an emphatic 8-3 lead in the head-to-head with Punjab, with one game tied More »

Evenly matched Rajasthan and Hyderabad face-off

Evenly matched Rajasthan and Hyderabad face-off

A quality that defines Rajasthan and Hyderabad is consistency. Rajasthan was one among two teams to enjoy complete dominance at home last season. Hyderabad… More »

Beleaguered Yuvraj tees off to Sharjah's delight

Beleaguered Yuvraj tees off to Sharjah's delight

Yuvraj Singh was hardly convincing to begin with against Delhi, but a big dose of crowd support and a helping of poor bowling meant he had the opportunity… More »

Fiery star Stokes bids to curb his temper

Fiery star Stokes bids to curb his temper

England all-rounder Ben Stokes admits he must keep his anger under control if he is to end his international exile. More »

Troubled Trott to take another break

Troubled Trott to take another break

Jonathan pulled out of England's tour to Australia Brisbane with a 'stress-related illness'. More »

Bangalore's arsenal blazes to victory

Bangalore's arsenal blazes to victory

Yuvraj Singh was back to his best in his first match for Royal Challengers Bangalore. More »

Pakistan cricketers face probe

Pakistan cricketers face probe

Pakistani cricket authorities have launched an investigation after a number of current international stars played in exhibition matches in the United States… More »

BCCI to meet before next court hearing

BCCI to meet before next court hearing

The BCCI will hold an emergent working committee meeting on April 20 to discuss the future course of action with regard to the Supreme Court hearing concerning… More »

Gavaskar wants a clean IPL

Gavaskar wants a clean IPL

"Integrity is non-negotiable..." says the BCCI's interim chief ahead of Season 7 of the tainted league. More »

'Yak' Kallis still on top of his game

'Yak' Kallis still on top of his game

The 38-year-old South African veteran turned it on for Kolkata Knight RIders in the opening match of IPL-7. More »

Srinivasan named in fixing report: SC

Srinivasan named in fixing report: SC

The court emphasised that the tainted administrator can no longer work for the BCCI. More »

Kallis, Narine star in KKR win

Kallis, Narine star in KKR win

An all-round display saw Knight Riders thump Mumbai Indians by 41 runs in the IPL-7 opener. More »

Yuvraj happy to play for RCB: Kohli

Yuvraj happy to play for RCB: Kohli

New-look RCB will play their first game of IPL-7 on Thursday. More »

IPL: News Line

IPL: News Line

A round-up of all the news from this season of the IPL. More »

Shane Watson issues moral warning

Shane Watson issues moral warning

'Everyone knows what is right and what is wrong and if you do the wrong thing it will be found out' More »

Why I'm not looking forward to the IPL

Why I'm not looking forward to the IPL

Welcome to another season of a league that many watch but few trust. More »

Johnson may quit T20s for Tests

Johnson may quit T20s for Tests

Australia's Mitchell Johnson may quit limited-overs cricket to prolong his test career with an eye on the 2015 Ashes series in England, the fast bowler… More »

There's a lot going on: Fleming

There's a lot going on: Fleming

He experienced anxious moments in the lead-up to the tournament as the courts decided on whether to suspend the franchise, he said, but stressed that the… More »

Nepal players call off boycott

Nepal players call off boycott

Thaw in relations after formation of an advisory committee that would work in tandem with the Cricket Association of Nepal. More »

Latif couldn’t work with tainted players

Latif couldn’t work with tainted players

Former Pakistan cricket captain Rashid Latif said Tuesday he turned down the job of national chief selector because he could not work with ex-players tainted… More »

We are not over-confident: Bailey

We are not over-confident: Bailey

Indian Premier League — George Bailey-led Kings XI Punjab will face Chennai Super Kings on Friday. More »

Big runs expected, with bat and ball

Big runs expected, with bat and ball

Royal Challengers Bangalore: Their main concern, once again, is the fast bowling More »

Taxing issue — BCCI hits roadblock

Taxing issue — BCCI hits roadblock

MoU between BCCI & its units to avoid double taxation delayed after a few decline to share details. More »

Black Caps pick rookie duo for West Indies

Black Caps pick rookie duo for West Indies

New Zealand selectors included two new caps in a 15-man Test squad named Tuesday to tour the West Indies, with injury-hit spinner Dan Vettori's future… More »