[JURIST] Syrian civilians are facing war crimes and crimes against humanity [press release] with “no end in sight,” a group of UN human rights experts said Thursday. The Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic [official website] issued its latest report [text, PDF] on the civil war in Syria Thursday. Paulo Sergio Pinheiro [official profile], chair of the UN investigative panel, stated to members of the Associated Press that the Islamic State (IS) seems [AP report] to be “desperate, because they are losing ground.” According to the report, IS suffered significant losses to the Kurdish armed group, the People’s Protection Units (YPG) [GlobalSecurity backgrounder], and has resorted to using suicide car-bombs and hit-and-run tactics. US intelligence agencies seem to disagree with Pinheiro, as the CIA and other agencies announced [AP report] in July that their assessments show IS is “fundamentally no weaker than it was when the US-led bombing campaign began a year ago.”
IS, also known as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), has caused increasing international alarm over its human rights abuses [JURIST report] since its insurgence into Syria and Iraq in 2013. Over the last two weeks the UN condemned the destruction of the temples of Bel and Baalshamin [JURIST reports] in Syria by IS. In March the UN released a report saying that other actions by IS may be war crimes [JURIST report]. In February IS led suicide bombings in eastern Libya, killing at least 40 people [JURIST report] and injuring 70 more. IS said this was the group’s way of retaliating against Egyptian airstrikes protesting the IS presence in Northern Africa. In December the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights [official website] reported that the IS executed [JURIST report] 1,878 people in Syria between June and December. February’s suicide bombings indicate that the number of executions continues to increase. That month the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights condemned [JURIST report] the groups beheading of 21 Coptic Christians in Syria.