As the U.S. and its allies clamour to punish the Assad government in Syria for alleged use of chemical weapons against civilians and rebels, a vast majority of Syrians have been killed in unlawful attacks using conventional weapons such as guns and mortars, with children making up a large proportion of the casualties. These are the findings of a United Nations appointed human right probe which is calling for a halt to weapons being supplied to both government and the rebel forces.
"Arms transfers should not occur where there is a real risk that they will be used in the commission of crimes against humanity, violations of international humanitarian law, or war crimes. In Syria, this is a tragic reality," the chairman of the International Commission of Inquiry on Syria, Paulo Pinheiro, said in introducing the report to the Human Rights Council.
Commenting about the worsening situation in Syria, Mr Pinheiro observed that the conflict is deepening in its intransigence due to the failure to find a settlement. This, in turn, has widened the scope of the conflict with "new actors and unimaginable crimes."
The panel found that civilians continue to bear the brunt. Civilians continue to face daily indiscriminate shelling and bombardment by the government and extremist forces, the commission found.
The chairman of the commission felt that the latest diplomatic efforts in Geneva involving Russia and the United States aimed at removing the arsenal "may - may - form the bedrock of a broader negotiation leading to a political settlement of the conflict."
He said that the vast majority of the conflict's casualties result from unlawful attacks using conventional weapons such as guns and mortars.
Mr Pinheiro said the commission also noted an "upsurge in crimes and abuses" across northern Syria committed by extremist anti-government armed groups along with an influx of foreign fighters, in particular Al Muhajireen.
Hundreds of Kurdish civilians in northern Aleppo, Al Raqqah and Al Hasakah have been taken hostage by extremist anti-government armed groups in connection with prisoner exchanges, he said.
In his statement, Mr Pinheiro also highlighted the deteriorating humanitarian conditions, particularly in the Syrian Kurdish areas, and the impact of hostilities on the socio-economic rights of Syrians.
Established by the UN Human Rights Council in 2011, the Commission is mandated to investigate and record all violations of international human rights law during the Syria conflict.
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