U.N. Accuses Syria of Human Rights Abuses -- U.S., Europe, Arabs Will Demand Cease-Fire
From Our Press Services, The Commercial Appeal (Memphis, TN)
A U.N. panel concluded Thursday that "gross human rights violations" had been ordered by Syrian authorities at "the highest levels of the armed forces and the government," amounting to crimes against humanity.
The report by the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights in Geneva was released as:
The United States, Europe and Arab nations prepared to demand that Syrian President Bashar Assad agree within days to a ceasefire and allow humanitarian aid into areas hardest hit by his regime's brutal crackdown on opponents. Further defiance by Assad could bring even tougher sanctions and isolation.
Warnings from Syrian activists of a humanitarian catastrophe in Homs grew more desperate as government forces resumed shelling an opposition stronghold in the restive central city, where hundreds have died in a weekslong siege.
"Every minute counts. People will soon start to collapse from lack of sleep and shortages in food," said Homs-based activist Omar Shaker.
The U.N. human rights panel of three investigators, led by Paulo Pinheiro of Brazil, did not release the names of the officials it had identified as responsible for the violations.
Instead, the panel delivered the names in a sealed envelope to the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights in Geneva.
The 72-page report said the insurgent Free Syrian Army, made up of defectors from forces loyal to Assad, had also committed abuses, but those were "not comparable in scale and organization to those carried out by the state. …