A United Nations human rights investigation accuses Syria of crimes against humanity and of having “manifestly failed” to protect its own people. A list of Syrian military and political officials suspected of crimes against humanity that reportedly includes President Bashar al-Assad has been submitted by the UN-appointed Independent International Commission of Inquiry on Syria. But even the U.N. “admits that the list… is worthless at the moment.”
The 72-page report says that it has “found instances of gross abuses committed by opposition fighters, many of whom are mutinous soldiers” belonging to the insurgent Free Syrian Army; it calls for an “inclusive political dialogue” in which the government and the opposition will “negotiate an end to the violence, to ensure respect for human rights and to address the legitimate demands of the Syrian people.” 369 interviews with victims, witnesses, defectors and others with “inside knowledge” were consulted in preparing the report.
An anonymous U.S. official said that the U.N.’s proposal will be discussed at a Friday conference in Tunis of the “Friends of Syria,” which includes the U.S., European allies and Arab states seeking to end the crisis in Syria, which has been going on for nearly a year. At the meeting, officials will try to set a deadline for a ceasefire.
Siege of Homs Enters 20th Day
Today is the 20th straight day that Syrian troops have laid siege to the central city of Homs with mortar attacks and machine guns fire. An activist told the Guardian that 25 tanks and 35 armored vehicles and supply trucks have been seen making their way to the city and that “terrifying explosions” have been terrifying the already traumatized residents.
According to activist Hadi al-Abdallah, the government seems even more determined to “eliminate all opposition” in Homs after being condemned around the world for the deaths of journalists Marie Colvin and photographer Rémi Ochlik. Al-Abdallah said that “We are sure that the [media] center [where Colvin and Ochlik were staying] was targeted, because 11 rockets struck in and around it” and that Syrian forces had intercepted a transmission signal.” French journalist Edith Bouvier, who suffered a double leg fracture and profuse bleeding in the attack, has appeared in a video pleading to be allowed out of Homs to receive medical treatment.
Syria’s foreign ministry has issued a statement on state television saying it rejects “statements holding Syria responsible for the deaths of journalists who sneaked into its territory at their own risk.”
For the third day in a row, students have been protesting at Aleppo University in northern Syria; the city had been relatively free of demonstrations until recently. Police used tear gas to disperse the students, two of whom have been detained.
The U.N. estimates that at least 5,400 have died since March 2011 and thousands more wounded, but has stopped tallying the those killed as it says it can no longer verify the numbers.
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