Inquiry Details Human Rights Violations in Syria
The Independent International Commission of Inquiry on Syria (CoI) submitted an update of its findings to the U.N. Human Rights Council today. The CoI report found that “military engagements have escalated dramatically” in recent weeks and that “human rights violations are occurring across the country on an alarming scale” including: unlawful killings, arbitrary detention, and torture and sexual violence. Meanwhile, Human Rights Watch (HRW) urged Syrian authorities to stop indiscriminately shooting civilians fleeing to Jordan and other neighboring countries. Gerry Simpson, a senior refugee researcher and advocate for HRW said, “Syria is forcing its own desperate civilians to crawl out of their country under a hail of bullets.”
President Bashar al-Assad declared that Syria was in a “state of war” in the midst of heavy fighting across the country. Shortly after, gunmen attacked a pro-Assad television station in Damascus, highlighting the endemic nature of the 16 month conflict as fighting encroaches on the capital.
The permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Turkey will meet with Kofi Annan on Saturday to discuss the conflict in Syria, including any remaining possibilities for a political transition. Neither Iran nor Saudi Arabia were invited to the meeting, despite the two countries’ regional influence. U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who will attend the meeting, said she has “great hope” that it can be “a turning point in the very tragic circumstances affecting the Syrian people at this time.”