Syrian President Bashar Assad could stop the killing of civilians in his country with one simple order, said UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay on Wednesday in an interview with BBC.
"Factually there is enough evidence pointing to the fact that many of these acts are committed by the security forces [and] must have received approval or complicity at the highest level," she asserted, adding that Assad would face justice for the abuses carried out by his forces.
She expressed particular concern regarding the targeting of children in Syria: "They've gone for the children... in large numbers, hundreds detained an tortured, it's just horrendous." It seems to be systematic and targeted, she said, adding that the lack of access to the country troubled her.
On Tuesday Assad's government said it had accepted a peace and ceasefire plan drawn up by UN and Arab League special envoy Kofi Annan. Violence continued, however, even spilling into Lebanon as Syrian troops thrust through the border to battle rebels who had taken refuge there.
In meeting of Syrian opposition groups in Turkey on Tuesday that aimed to show they can unite to form an alternative to Assad, members of the Syrian National Council, the main opposition umbrella group, responded to news that Assad had accepted Annan's proposal.
SNC spokeswoman Basma Kodmani voiced support for the plan, so long as it led to Assad's removal. "This is for us a position that cannot change because thousands of Syrians have died for it," Kodmani said.
Other SNC members dismissed Assad's word. "He is buying time. It means more killing. He is playing games," said Adib Shishakly. "Every hour we are losing five people. So really, time is life."
Reuters contributed to this report
Jerusalem Post Annual Conference. Buy it now, Special offer. Come meet Israel's top leaders