United Nations report calls war crimes widespread

Summary executions, torture, hostage-taking and indiscriminate shelling of civilian homes are among the war crimes committed by both sides in the Syrian conflict, a special investigative panel of the United Nations Human Rights Council reported Wednesday.

The report, based on 258 interviews with survivors of the violence and refugees from Syria, warned of a frightening escalation in recent months of acts in defiance of international law.

Eight of nine investigated massacres in which the perpetrators could be reliably identified were blamed on government forces under Syrian President Bashar Assad, the report of the Independent International Commission of Inquiry said.

“Government and pro-government forces have continued to conduct widespread attacks on the civilian population, committing murder, torture, rape and enforced disappearance as crimes against humanity,” the report to the Geneva-based rights council said. “Government forces have committed gross violations of human rights and the war crimes of torture, hostage-taking, murder, execution without due process, rape, attacking protected objects and pillage.”

But probes still under way in nine other reported massacres this year and the atrocities found to have been committed by rebels in Dair Alzour in June reflect the radicalization of anti-government factions with the influx of militant jihadist groups, the panel reported. It named the al-Qaida-aligned al-Nusra Front and the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria as foreign militants that have developed their own strongholds in northern Syria.

The report was based on interviews conducted between May 15 and July 15, prior to the chemical weapons attacks in Damascus suburbs on Aug. 21.

– Los Angeles Times

Putin points to, criticizes U.S. military interventions

WASHINGTON – Russian President Vladimir Putin is using an opinion piece in The New York Times to assert that it’s alarming that military intervention in internal conflicts in foreign countries has become commonplace for the United States.

Putin says millions around the world increasingly see America not as a model for democracy, but as relying solely on brute force.

– The Associated Press