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UN: Syria rebels committed mass executions of civilians

A panel of UN human rights experts led by Paulo Sergio Pinheiro, Chairperson of the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on Syrian Arab Republic [official website], announced on Tuesday a new investigative report [text, PDF] into the Syrian conflict. The report describes horrific violence in Syria by rebel and government forces in recent months. Most striking is the depiction of "execution fields" where mass killings were reportedly committed by jihadist rebels against Syrian civilians and the use of barrel bomb attacks by government forces into residential neighborhoods of Aleppo city. The report covers war violations committed during the period of January 20 until March 10, 2014, and it is based on 130 interviews conducted around the region and in Geneva as well as satellite images, photographs, video recordings and other materials. Further investigations into allegations of massacres are ongoing.

The Syrian Civil War [JURIST backgrounder] has persisted for more than three years and the conflict is known for severe human rights violations. According to Tuesday's UN report, the number of recorded casualties is now in excess of one hundred thousand. Earlier this month, the UN Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic urged [JURIST report] the international community to respond to the recurring crimes against humanity perpetrated by both government and non-government entities. Also in March, the human rights group Amnesty International [advocacy website] accused [JURIST report] Syrian president Bashar al-Assad's forces of committing war crimes and crimes against humanity on Palestinian and Syrian civilians in Yarmouk, on the outskirts of Damascus. In February UN human rights experts reported that pro-Government and opposition forces are both responsible for committing war crimes in Syria, including human rights violations against children [JURIST reports].

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