There is no military solution for the Syrian crisis and the United Nations Security Council’s five permanent members must “cooperate” to end the 18-month conflict there, Paulo Pinheiro, head of the U.N. Human Rights investigators recommended in a report released on Monday.
The U.N. investigators were not able to be present in Syria while preparing their report, Pinheiro told Al Arabiya, but his investigative group, which has interviewed 1,100 people, has enough documented information to know what is happening in the country.
He said refugees, families, the wounded, and people who have escaped as well as members of the Free Syrian Army were interviewed.
While information from semi-government agencies was not counted, he said such crisis couldn’t happen if there were no “orders” coming from higher Syrian authorities.
Asked to describe the most heinous crime documented against civilians in Syria, he said he cannot point one.
Crimes he listed include, arbitrary arrests, torture, rape and the maiming of children as targets. He also warned of deteriorating life condition for the majority of the population.
Executions were also documented through interviews, he said, with both government and the opposition held accountable.
New secret list
Pinheiro’s investigative group said that they had drawn up a new secret list of Syrians and units suspected of committing war crimes who should face criminal prosecution someday.
They said that they had gathered “a formidable and extraordinary body of evidence” and urged the U.N. Security Council to refer the situation in Syria to the International Criminal Court (ICC).
“A second confidential list of individuals and units believed to be responsible for violations is being provided to the High Commissioner of Human Rights,” Pinheiro told the U.N. Human Rights Council in Geneva, according to Reuters.
However, in his Al Arabiya interview, Pinheiro said that it is not his group’s specialization or task to transfer evidence documented to the ICC.
He said there was an “increasing and alarming presence” of Islamist militants in Syria, some joining the rebels and others operating independently. Their presence tended to radicalize the rebels who have also committed crimes, he said.
Western countries are seeking yet another condemnation of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s government at the session.
“The international community must ensure impunity will not prevail,” European Union ambassador Mariangela Zappia said at Monday’s debate that was also attended by Syrian envoy Faysal Khabbaz Hamoui.
Meanwhile, fighting raged in Syria’s second city Aleppo on Monday amid a disputed claim that the army had managed to seize the strategic district of Midan from rebels, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.
The army clashed with rebel fighters in several districts of the northern city, which has been the site of fierce fighting since July 20, the Observatory said, according to AFP.
One battle broke out near a building housing the feared air force intelligence service, and rebels also attacked a military post in the New Aleppo area.
Pro-regime Syrian newspaper al-Watan claimed that the army had “cleansed” the Midan district, where the “majority of the armed men were Arab and foreign extremists.”
But Observatory director Rami Abdul Rahman said the account was untrue.
“Clashes are ongoing in Midan and in several parts of Aleppo. Such claims are just part of the media war,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Britain-based monitoring group said the army shelled the strongly pro-rebel district of al-Hajar al-Aswad in Damascus in preparation for storming it.
“The army started to shell ... over an hour ago,” the Observatory said late morning, “and it is trying to storm the district.”
“According to initial reports, one person has been killed there, and several have been injured.”
The latest violence comes a day after at least 148 people were killed across Syria, most of them civilians, according to the Observatory.
In addition, some 28 unidentified corpses were found across the strife-torn country, including 16 people who had been summarily executed in the Qadam district of Damascus and 11 who had been shot dead in Kfar Sousa, also in the capital.
The watchdog has said that, as the war becomes increasingly brutal, it is becoming more difficult to document the death toll.