The UN Independent International Commission of Inquiry (COI) [official website] in Syria released its latest periodic update [text, PDF; press release] on Thursday, finding persistent violence and human rights abuses. The update covers the period of September 28, when the UN Human Rights Council [official website] passed a resolution extending [JURIST report] the COI's mission, until December 16. According to the update:
The unrelenting violence in Syria has resulted in thousands of deaths, untold thousands of wounded, detained and disappeared, and physical destruction on a massive scale. Hundreds of thousands have fled their homes and those that remain struggle to secure basic necessities. World heritage sites have been damaged or destroyed, as have entire neighbourhoods. Civilians have borne the brunt of escalating armed confrontations as the front lines between Government forces and the armed opposition have moved deeper into urban areas. The patterns of international human rights and humanitarian law violations that were noted in previous reports have continued unabated, alongside a proliferation of both anti- and pro-Government armed entities.While the COI has still not been permitted to enter Syria, commissioners have interviewed more than 1,200 witnesses and victims. The COI will present its fourth report to the UN Human Rights Council in March.
The Syrian government has been in conflict with the opposition since 2011, and the international community has become increasingly concerned about the violence. Last week US President Barack Obama recognized the leading Syrian opposition coalition as the legitimate representative of the country's people. A UN official said last month that a video posted on the Internet of Syrian rebels executing government soldiers who had surrendered may be evidence of war crimes [JURIST report]. In October UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay [official website] called on the international community to work to bring an end to the Syrian conflict [JURIST report]. Her statement came after Human Rights Watch [advocacy website] reported earlier that month that the Syrian government was using cluster bombs [JURIST report] against opposition forces. In September UN investigators reported [JURIST report] that the number and frequency of human rights violations committed by both sides of the conflict were increasing rapidly.