A United Nations human rights inquiry panel, in a rare departure from targeting Israel, accused Syria on Monday of committing war crimes in its brutal suppression of the Arab Spring uprising.
The U.N. Human Rights Council’s report said the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad had committed crimes against humanity by murdering and torturing hundreds of civilian protesters, including 256 children.
One of the victims cited in the report was a two-year-old girl who was shot to death so she would not grow up to be a demonstrator.
"Torture was applied equally to adults and children," said the report. "Numerous testimonies indicated that boys were subjected to sexual torture in places of detention in front of adult men. [Troops] shot indiscriminately at unarmed protesters.”
Citing "a very solid body of evidence," panel chairman Prof. Paulo Sergio Pinheiro said that other crimes include “murder, torture, rape and other forms of sexual violence.”
At least 3,500 people have been gunned down in the nine-month-old struggle by protesters demanding reforms.
The harsh conclusions come only several days after the Arab League declared what Syria called “economic war” on Assad, who has been isolated by most of the international community except for Iran and Lebanon, where Syria and Hizbullah are the dominant forces.