GENEVA - The United Nations voiced fresh alarm on Friday at consistent and substantiated reports of executions and torture of civilians including children in Syria as well as killings of demonstrators in pro-democracy rallies.
The UN Committee against Torture cited "rife or systematic attacks against [the] civilian population, including the killing of peaceful demonstrators" and the persecution of activists.
Its statement came ahead of a major report being issued on Monday by a UN-backed independent commission of inquiry, headed by Brazilian expert Paulo Pinheiro, which investigated allegations that Syrian forces have committed crimes against humanity.
Syria faces increasing international pressure over its bloody crackdown on popular unrest. Damascus had until the end of Friday to sign an Arab deal allowing monitors into the country or incur sanctions.
More than 3,500 people have been killed since March, according to the United Nations, and activists say more than 30,000 have been arrested, including relatives of dissidents.