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UN rights chief condemns Syria government, rebels for suffering in Aleppo

[JURIST] UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay [official profile] on Wednesday condemned [press release] both the Syrian government and the armed rebels for their callousness towards the hardships both groups have imposed on the people of Aleppo. Pillay had previously opined that human rights violations by Syrian government forces "far outweigh" those by rebel groups [JURIST report]. However, she acknowledged that both groups' flagrant disregard for international human rights and humanitarian law has caused "tremendous suffering" for Aleppo. The shelling and aerial attacks on the city have continuously damaged essential infrastructure [UN News Centre report] such as water systems—a violation of international law, which prohibits damaging objects "indispensable to the survival of the civilian population." Pillay urged all parties to immediately cease their attacks on civilian areas.

The Syrian Civil War [JURIST backgrounder] has persisted for more than three years and has been marked by human rights violations. In April the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) released a report stating that the conflict in Syrian has caused the deaths of over 150,000 people [JURIST report]. In March a panel of UN human rights experts announced [JURIST report] a new investigative report [text, PDF] describing violence in Syria by both rebel and government forces in recent months. According to the UN report, the number of recorded casualties is now in excess of one hundred thousand. Earlier that 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 [JURIST report] for committing war crimes in Syria.

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