Syrian war criminals must be tried in International Criminal Court, urges UN

UN investigators today painted a bleak picture of the civil war in Syria, describing it as "increasingly violent and reckless with human life" as they urged the Security Council to refer the perpetrators of war crimes to the International Criminal Court.

The inquiry said that the conflict has become increasingly sectarian, permeated by opportunistic criminality and rape and complicated by the presence of foreign fighters and extremist groups. It said both sides were responsible for war crimes, but the scale of the violations committed by government forces and its militias "significantly exceeds" those of the rebels.

The report, based on 445 interviews with victims and witnesses, detailed seven "massacres" committed during the six-month reporting period – five by the regime and its supporters and two by the opposition.

With an estimated 70,000 killed, attacks increasingly appear to have no military objective, with bakery queues and funeral processions targeted from the air to spread "terror among the civilian population", the report said.

Armed groups fighting to overthrow the President, Bashar al-Assad, have committed war crimes. Both sides were found to have broken the Convention on the Rights of the Child by using child combatants.

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