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The Horrifying Atrocities in the U.N. Report on Syria: A Primer

A U.N. panel tasked with investigating the human rights situation in Syria released its report yesterday. It’s a disturbing, but sobering, read. Based on 369 interviews, the report documents the many crimes against humanity committed by the Syrian regime during the past year; below, we’ve gathered some of the most appalling violations.    

Torturing Children
“Children continued to be arbitrarily arrested and tortured while in detention. According to former detainees interviewed by the commission, children were treated in the same way as adults, in blatant disregard of their age. They were kept in the same cells and subject to the same methods of torture as adults.” (p. 15) 

Turning hospitals into torture chambers
“Security agencies continued to systematically arrest wounded patients in State hospitals and to interrogate them, often using torture, about their supposed participation in opposition demonstrations or armed activities. The commission documented evidence that sections of Homs Military Hospital and Al Ladhiqiyah State Hospital had been transformed into torture centres. Security agents, in some cases joined by medical staff, chained seriously injured patients to their beds, electrocuted them, beat wounded parts of their body or denied them medical attention and water. Medical personnel who did not collaborate faced reprisals.” (p. 13-14) 

Snipers targeting small children
“Starting in early November 2011, the level of violence between State forces and anti-Government armed groups increased in areas of Homs, Hama, Rif Dimashq and Idlib governorates with a strong presence of such groups. State forces withdrew from and then surrounded many of these areas. Army snipers and Shabbiha gunmen posted at strategic points terrorized the population, targeting and killing small children, women and other unarmed civilians. Fragmentation mortar bombs were also fired into densely populated neighbourhoods.” (p. 10) 

Unannounced shelling
“After the withdrawal of League of Arab States observers in late January, the army intensified its bombardment with heavy weapons. It gave no warning to the population and unarmed civilians were given no chance to evacuate. As a result, large numbers of people, including many children, were killed. Several areas were bombarded and then stormed by State forces, which arrested, tortured and summarily executed suspected defectors and opposition activists.” (p. 11) 

Women targeted during home invasions
“More large-scale raids were conducted, especially in areas where defectors are presumed to be hiding or in areas perceived as being sympathetic to the protesters. The regular army normally cordoned off the area before security forces or elite army units, sometimes accompanied by Shabbiha, carried out house-to-house searches. In such raids, women were targeted for arbitrary arrest and detention, in many cases also to force male relatives to turn themselves in. Many women also emphasized the traumatic invasion of their privacy when security forces raided their houses, typically at night, and vandalized or looted their personal possessions.” (p. 13)

Mass torture and executions
“In Idlib governorate, the army shelled the villages of Ihsim, Ibleen, Ibdita, Kasanfra and Kafar Awid in mid-December. When State forces took control of the villages, security agents pillaged houses and loaded their loot into trucks brought along to transport detainees. On 20 December, local residents discovered the bodies of 74 defectors in a deserted area between Kafar Awid and Kasanfra. Their hands had been tied behind their back and they appeared to have been summarily executed. On 21 December, State forces attacked a group of activists from Kafar Awid who had sought refuge in the village mosque. After the forces withdrew, 60 bodies were discovered in the mosque. The victims appeared to have been tortured before their execution.” (p. 11)

Shooting unarmed protestors, including doctors, funeral mourners, and children
“Individual officers in the armed forces and Government security forces personally killed, unlawfully imprisoned, tortured, or committed other inhumane acts against innocent civilians. Officers shot unarmed protestors, including children, as well as medical doctors, ambulance drivers and mourners at funerals in cities such as Al Ladhiqiyah, Dar’a, Saida (Dar’a governorate), Zabadani and Jobar (Rif Dimashq governorate) and Almastoumah (Idlib governorate).” (p. 18)