U.N. Panel on Syria: Chemical Weapons, Other War Crimes on Both Sides

"It’s an illusion that more weapons will tip the balance between the two parties," the chair of a U.N. panel on the Syrian conflict said on Monday. "No one is winning."

Paolo Pinheiro, who has headed up the U.N. Commission of Inquiry into war crimes in Syria, poured cold water over the dreams of interventionists on both sides of the conflict in a report released Monday that cited both government forces and rebels for possible war crimes, the Times reports:

Both sides had adopted siege tactics, trapping civilians in their homes and cutting off supplies of food, water, medicines and electricity, the report stated, in clear breach of international law. The panel also reported instances in which forces of both sides have used attacks or the threat of them to drive civilians out of particular areas, which is also a war crime.

But these were only new tendencies in a conflict where “crimes that shock the conscience have become a daily reality,” Mr. Pinheiro said, reciting a list of abuses that included murder, extrajudicial execution, torture, recruitment of children and hostage taking.

The report comes on the heels of an announcement that Russia would supply government forces, operating under the authority of President Bashar Assad, with a missile defense system, and a soon after a push by Senator John McCain in the U.S., and others in Europe, to arm at least some factions of the anti-government rebels.

But if the government troops are worse than the rebels, it is only in "intensity," and not "in the nature of the crimes," Pinheiro said.

"[I]ncreased arm transfers," the report concludes, "hurt the prospect of a political settlement to the conflict, fuel the multiplication of armed actors at the national and regional levels and have devastating consequences for civilians."

[image via AP]