Government forces, pro-Assad militia responsible for Houla massacre, UN reports says
The United Nations Independent International Commission of Inquiry (CoI) on Syria released its final report Wednesday which concluded that Syrian government forces and anti-government groups both responsible for war crimes, Xinhua reported.
"Government forces and the (pro-government militia) Shabbiha had committed the crimes against humanity of murder and of torture, war crimes and gross violations of international human rights law and international humanitarian law," said the report which will be presented to the upcoming 21st session of the UN Human Rights Council (HRC) on Sept. 17.
Government forces and Shabbiha members were also held responsible for the killings in Houla on May 25, according to the report.
The report also said that war crimes, including murder, extrajudicial killings and torture, were perpetrated by anti-government armed groups.
However, "the violations and abuses committed by anti-government armed groups did not reach the gravity, frequency and scale of those committed by government forces and the Shabbiha," it said.
The commission noted that the situation of human rights in Syria has deteriorated significantly since Feb. 15 2012 as armed violence increased in intensity and spread to new areas, and active hostilities raged between government forces (and the Shabbiha) and anti-government armed groups.
"Sporadic clashes between the armed actors evolved into continuous combat, involving more brutal tactics and new military capabilities on both sides," it said, adding that both groups violated the rights of children.
The commission, chaired by Paulo Sergio Pinheiro, will submit a confidential list of individuals and units believed to be responsible for those crimes to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights when its mandate ends in September, said the report.
The CoI was established in September 2011 by the UNHRC to investigate all alleged violations of international human rights law since March 2011 in Syria, and was requested to probe into the Houla killings in a special session of the UNHRC on June 1.
The investigations have been conducted mainly through interviews -- a total of 1,062 interviews since its establishment -- with those who left the country due to the lack of access to the country.
The commission reiterated that an international consensus is essential to end the violence in Syria and to build the road towards a political transition process that reflects the legitimate aspirations of all segments of Syrian society, including ethnic and religious minorities.