The Associated Press reports: As nations mount an offensive against the Islamic State militants that have gained a stronghold in Iraq and Syria, a U.N. human rights commission emphasized Tuesday that the Syrian President Bashar Assad’s government has committed the bulk of atrocities in the civil war.
The head of the commission, Brazilian diplomat and scholar Paulo Sergio Pinheiro, told the U.N.’s top human rights body that the government’s killing of civilians — often through the use of ubiquitous checkpoints — exceeds the crimes against civilians perpetrated by the militants and other anti-government armed groups.
The Islamic State extremists and anti-government armed groups are not “the sole agents of death and destruction inside Syria,” Pinheiro told the 47-nation Human Rights Council in Geneva.
The Council authorized the commission to investigate all alleged violations of international human rights law since March 2011 in Syria and to identify whenever possible those responsible, so that they can be prosecuted.
“The Syrian government remains responsible for the majority of the civilian casualties, killing and maiming scores of civilians daily — both from a distance using shelling and aerial bombardment and up close, at its checkpoints and in its interrogation rooms,” Pinheiro said. “Checkpoints are often the starting point of a horrific journey of disappearance, torture, sexual abuse and, for many, death. Checkpoints are used to enforce sieges and to trap civilians in areas under indiscriminate bombardment.” [Continue reading…]