UN reports sharp jump in attacks on Syrian civilians
BEIRUT — With the Syrian conflict reported to be spilling into the Lebanese border area on Monday, U.N. investigators said civilians were bearing the brunt of indiscriminate air and ground assaults in the fighting over the future of President Bashar Assad.
The report was presented to the U.N. Human Rights Council in Geneva by Paulo Pinheiro, the Brazilian investigator leading a U.N. commission of inquiry. Pinheiro said that there had been a sharp escalation in indiscriminate attacks by government forces against civilians, and that the commission had collected “a formidable and extraordinary body of evidence” against those responsible.
The report, completed last month, said that both anti- and pro-government forces had committed war crimes and crimes against humanity. Pinheiro said that the evidence, including names of people and units, could support action by national or international courts.
A report released on Monday by Human Rights Watch, based in New York, raised further concerns about rights abuses by anti-government fighters. The group documented 12 cases of extrajudicial or summary executions by groups linked to the opposition, including four killings in the town of Haffa by members of the Ansar Mohammed battalion.
Battalion members told the rights group that after storming a police station there in June, they killed two snipers on the roof. The fighters, referring to an opposition group of army defectors known as the Free Syrian Army, explained that “everyone saw that they had been shooting at us and killing FSA fighters, so there was no need for a trial.”
Underscoring the reach of the conflict and its regional perils, Lebanon’s Ministry of Information said that the Syrian Air Force raided an area near the Syrian-Lebanese border at about noon on Monday, but there were no reports of casualties. The raid lasted for about three minutes, the ministry said in a statement.
The attack near the Lebanese border town of Ersal lasted about three minutes, the Ministry of Information said.