UN investigators accuse Isis of crimes against humanity

One female dentist in Deir al-Zor had been beheaded for treating patients of both sexes

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Isis commanders are liable for war crimes on a “massive scale” in north-east Syria, where they spread terror by beheading, stoning and shooting civilians and captured fighters, UN investigators have said.

Their report, based on more than 300 interviews with witnesses and victims, called on world powers to bring the commanders before the International Criminal Court for both alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity.

“In carrying out mass killings of captured fighters and civilians following military assaults, Isis members have perpetrated egregious violations of binding international humanitarian law and the war crime of murder on a massive scale,” said the report.

According to the report, foreign fighters have swollen the group’s ranks and dominate its leadership structure. A separate UN report has said 15,000 foreigners have gone to fight in Syria and Iraq.


“The commanders of Isis have acted wilfully, perpetrating these war crimes… They are individually criminally responsible,” the report added.

Paulo Pinheiro, who chaired the UN panel, said yesterday its findings would add to a secret list of war crimes suspects from all sides in Syria’s civil war, in which 200,000 have been killed since 2011.

Since US-led air strikes began targeting Isis in Syria in late September, its fighters have begun taking up positions in civilian houses and farms, leading to civilian casualties, the report said.

It found that Isis was depriving 600,000 people of deliveries of food and medical aid, and enforcing its radical interpretation of Islamic law through “morality police”. Orders had been issued for lashings and amputations for offences such as smoking cigarettes and theft. One female dentist in Deir al-Zor had been beheaded for treating patients of both sexes.

“Isis has beheaded, shot and stoned men, women and children in public spaces,” the report claimed.

The report said children were being pressed to inform on their parents, women stoned for unapproved contact with men, and Christians, Kurds and other minorities forced to convert to Islam or pay a tax. “Witnesses saw scenes of still-bleeding bodies hanging from crosses, and of heads placed on spikes along park railings,” it said.