UN panel concludes war crimes perpetrated in Syria

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GENEVA — Syrian President Bashar Assad’s forces and pro-government shabiha fighters have perpetrated war crimes and crimes against humanity on Syrian civilians, a U.N. expert panel concluded today, in a report that provides in chilling detail further evidence of a conflict spiraling out of control.

The panel appointed by the U.N.’s 47-nation Human Rights Council blamed the government and allied militia for the killing of more than 100 civilians in the village of Houla in May, and said the murders, unlawful killing, torture, sexual violence and indiscriminate attacks “indicate the involvement at the highest levels of the armed and security forces and the government.”

The panel also concluded in its final report today to the Geneva-based council that anti-government groups committed war crimes, including murder, extrajudicial killings and torture, but at a lesser frequency and scale.

Their report could be used by world powers to justify tougher outside action against Syria, or strengthen calls for an international investigation and prosecution of possible war crimes and crimes against humanity.

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