Syria parties are killing not protecting civilians

AP News
|
Posted: Dec 15, 2014 9:26 PM

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — The U.N. humanitarian chief accused the warring parties in Syria on Monday of ignoring Security Council demands to protect civilians, citing a doubling of the number of people killed from 100,000 in February to close to 200,000 today and around 1 million injured.

Valerie Amos told the Security Council Monday that "brutality, violence and callous disregard for human life" have become hallmarks of the conflict that began in March 2011, and the international community "has become numb to its impact."

She said all sides are disregarding the council's call for an end to the indiscriminate use of weapons: the government continues to use barrel bombs in densely populated areas, and opposition groups and terrorist organizations are using mortars, car bombs and other explosives that kill civilians.

Amos said a resolution adopted by the council in February condemned abuses against children, "yet today Syria is one of the most dangerous places on earth to be a child."

The number of children in need of immediate assistance has jumped from about 4 million in February to over 5.6 million today, and "children have been murdered, tortured and subjected to sexual violence by all parties to the conflict," she said.

Amos cited reports of children being publicly executed, crucified, beheaded and stoned to death, particularly by the terrorist group calling itself the Islamic State which controls a large swath of northern Syria after pummeling government forces there this year.

Amos also cited a report of 350 children, some as young as five years old, being trained for combat in a military camp in Raqqa, which the Islamic State group controls.

Reports of sexual and gender based violence have increased since July, particularly by the Islamic State group, Amos said.

Women captured as slaves by the terrorist group have been sold in markets in Raqqa, some to individual men and others to "rest houses" where they face multiple rapes by fighters returning from the battlefield.

Amos also accused the warring parties of disregarding the council's demands to end arbitrary detentions, torture and attacks on hospitals and schools, and to lift the siege of towns and cities where no one has been allowed out and no aid has been allowed in for years.

She appealed to the council to ensure that the government and all armed groups comply with the February resolution, and to find a political solution.

The U.N. is trying to decrease violence in Syria enough to permit the delivery of humanitarian aid and set the stage for peace talks. A plan proposed by the U.N. special envoy to Syria, Staffan de Mistura, calls for a localized cease-fire in the northern Syrian city of Aleppo.