Syrian forces committing crimes on orders from top, UN says

By REUTERS
February 23, 2012 13:16

GENEVA - Syrian forces have shot dead unarmed women and children, shelled residential areas and tortured wounded protesters in hospital under orders from the "highest level" of army and government officials, the United Nations said on Thursday.

Independent UN investigators called for perpetrators of such crimes against humanity to face prosecution and said they had drawn up a confidential list of names of commanding officers and officials alleged to be responsible.

"The commission received credible and consistent evidence identifying high- and mid-ranking members of the armed forces who ordered their subordinates to shoot at unarmed protesters, kill soldiers who refused to obey such orders, arrest persons without cause, mistreat detained persons and attack civilian neighborhoods with indiscriminate tanks and machine-gun fire," investigators said in a report to the UN Human Rights Council.

The commission of inquiry, headed by Brazilian Paulo Pinheiro, found that rebel forces led by the Free Syrian Army had also committed abuses including killings and abductions, "although not comparable in scale".

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