Investigators from the United Nations International Independent Commission on Syria have issued a report on the human rights situation in the country.

The document, published Tuesday, September 15, deals with violations committed by all the actors in the conflict throughout Syrian territory.  

The damning findings of the investigations, which were carried out between January 11 and July 1, 2020, point to "outbreaks of violence" and "persistent human rights violations throughout the Syrian Arab Republic".

For UN investigators, "the suffering of civilians is a constant and personal characteristic of this crisis".   

Violations which include cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment "inflicted by all parties", and "the persistence of a routine practice of arbitrary detention, enforced disappearances, and torture and death in detention".   

And for good reason, the document relates a multitude of violations committed by the government forces of President Bashar al-Assad, by the Syrian National Army (ANS) supported by Turkey, by the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), as well as by the jihadists from Hay'at Tahrir al-Sham and other parties to the conflict. 

"There are no clean hands in this conflict," Commission President Paulo Pinheiro said when presenting the report. 

Kurdish women victims of rape and sexual violence 

During its investigations, the commission focused in particular on the situation of the Kurdish regions in northern Syria, and specifically on the abuses committed by the ANS, suspected of having committed the war crimes of hostage taking. , torture and rape.  

According to the report, Kurdish women in the Afrin and Ras el-Aïn regions have been subjected to intimidation by members of Syrian National Army brigades since 2019, "which creates a general climate of fear which has the effect of confining them to their homes ".

According to testimonies gathered by the Commission, "women and girls have also been detained by Syrian National Army fighters and have suffered rape and sexual violence." 

During the period under review, several cases of sexual violence against women and men were recorded in a detention center in Afrin, in northern Syria.

"On two occasions, military police officers of the Syrian National Army, apparently seeking to humiliate male detainees and extract confessions from them and instill fear in them, forced male detainees to witness the rape of male detainees. 'a minor ", reveal the investigators. 

He continued: "The Commission has received further information that families from Tal Abyad have chosen not to return home, fearing rape and sexual violence committed by members of the Syrian National Army. At least 30 women were reportedly raped in February alone ".  

Members of this Turkish army auxiliary force are also accused of looting and destroying cultural property, including religious and archaeological sites, in violation of international humanitarian law.  

Turkey reminded of its responsibilities 

In its report, the Commission reminded the Turkish authorities of their responsibilities.

"In areas under Turkish effective control, Turkey is responsible for ensuring, as far as possible, public order and security, and for granting special protection to women and children." .

She also clarified that Turkey remains bound by the applicable obligations arising from human rights treaties with regard to all individuals present in these territories.  

"In this regard, the Commission takes note of the allegations that the Turkish forces were aware of acts of looting and appropriation of civilian property and that they were present in detention centers administered by the Syrian National Army where ill treatment was very frequently inflicted on detainees, especially during interrogation, where torture was practiced ".  

The Commission warns that, "if it turns out that members of armed groups were acting under the effective command and control of the Turkish forces, the violations committed by these actors could lead to the criminal liability of the commanders of these forces who had or should have have knowledge of the crimes, or who have not taken all necessary and reasonable measures to prevent the commission or repress them ”.  

The Turkish offensive launched on October 9, 2019, made possible by the withdrawal of American forces deployed near the border with Syria, had pushed the Kurdish forces, on the front line against the jihadists of the Islamic State organization, to abandon several cities they administered until then. 

Ankara, which rejects any hint of Kurdish autonomy off its border with Syria, has set up a "security zone" in the Kurdish areas under ANS control.

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