[JURIST] Syria’s main opposition group on Sunday urged the UN [press release, in Arabic] to probe numerous massacres they say were committed during Ramadan by forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad [BBC profile]. The National Coalition for Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces (ETILAF) [official website, in Arabic] allege that Assad committed crimes against humanity by using ballistic missiles, toxic gas and chemical weapons. The coalition further accuses Assad’s forces of summarily executing civilians, burning them and targeting towns, villages, schools, hospitals and places of worship across Syria. The coalition said it was ready to cooperate in any independent probe:
The Coalition reiterates its full commitment to international conventions, emphasizing that those who violate international human rights law must be brought to justice regardless of who they might be and further expresses its readiness to cooperate with all independent organisations to conduct impartial investigations into the war crimes committed across Syria.
The coalition’s call comes two days after UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay [official profile] said a reported mass execution by rebels [JURIST report] of Syrian soldiers taken captive in the northern town of Khan al-Assal should be investigated. The coalition urged Pillay to immediately begin an investigation into the numerous massacres that have taken place during the holy month of Ramadan.
The Syrian Civil War [JURIST backgrounder] has been ongoing since 2011 when opposition groups first began protesting the regime of Assad, and the increasingly bloody nature of the conflict has put pressure on the international community to intervene. In July the Chair of the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on Syria [official website] urged the international community [JURIST report] to bring peace the country. In May Pillay expressed concern [JURIST report] regarding reports that described the slaying of entire Syrian families and shelling of communities, as well as the targeted strikes by Syrian armed forces on hospitals and schools. More than 100,000 people have been killed since fighting began between Syrian Government forces and opposition groups seeking to oust Assad. Almost two million have fled to neighboring countries and a further 4 million have been internally displaced.