The United Nations Fact-Finding Mission for Syria presented a report documenting ten years of war crimes in Syria's civil conflict, perpetrated by all factions with the help of "international negligence", in the words of the study's authors.
The report, the mission's 33rd, will be presented to the UN Human Rights Council on March 11, just days before the tenth anniversary of a conflict that has forced half the population to leave their homes and condemned six out of ten Syrians to extreme poverty, the report says.
"Syria's children, women and men have paid the price for an authoritarian regime that acted violently to crush dissent, while the opportunism of some foreign actors, in the form of funding, arms and other influence, stoked a fire that the world has merely watched burn," the mission's chairman, Brazilian Paulo Pinheiro, said at the report's launch.
The 31-page document concludes that since March 2011 the civilian population has suffered abuses that in some cases constitute "war crimes, crimes against humanity, and other international crimes, including genocide".
The report highlights, for example, that the regime of Bashar al-Assad has used the supposed fight against terrorism to order indiscriminate bombings of civilian targets including hospitals, medical facilities, schools and shops.
"Both the Syrian army and Russian air forces (supporting it) have targeted residential areas, including crowded markets in broad daylight, with wide-range explosive devices, killing and wounding civilians in attacks that amount to war crimes," the investigation stresses.
Such attacks on civilian targets were also perpetrated by other actors in the conflict, including Daesh, Kurdish militias, the Islamist alliance Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (the former al-Nusra Front) and the US-backed coalition, the report says.
It also reports that at least 38 chemical weapons attacks have been detected during the ten years of conflict, of which at least 32 were found to have been carried out by Syrian government forces and one by Daesh.
Away from the front lines, executions and mutilations of soldiers have been common, both by the Syrian army, opposition forces and Daesh, as well as attacks, threats, arrests and killings of journalists, a priority target of the Al-Assad regime.
Other documented crimes include looting, attacks on cultural heritage (especially, but not exclusively, by Daesh), sieges of cities or denial of humanitarian aid, the latter, the report denounces, with the acquiescence of the UN Security Council.
Out of the 22 million inhabitants of Syria before the war, more than 11.5 million are displaced, including more than five million as refugees in other countries, especially in the region (Turkey, Jordan, Lebanon, Egypt and Iraq).
The report concludes with a renewed call for a permanent ceasefire, guaranteed by the UN Security Council and key countries in the conflict, as well as justice and accountability for the crimes perpetrated in the war.
This call comes at a time when negotiations between the Syrian government and the opposition to try to draft a consensus constitution, underway since 2019 in Geneva, appear to have reached an impasse.
"There can be no waiting for the conflict to end for reparations that Syrians have repeatedly called for on issues such as missing persons, arbitrarily detained (...) and psychosocial support, especially for children and victims of sexual and gender-based violence," commented mission member Hanny Megally.
The report, compiled from more than 8,000 interviews, documents more than 3,200 alleged perpetrators of war crimes and other abuses from different factions of the conflict