National Security Brief: U.N. Panel Says Syria War ‘Has Reached New Levels Of Brutality’

United Nations investigators released a report on Tuesday finding that the ongoing civil war in Syria “has reached new levels of brutality,” claiming to report for the first time “the systematic imposition of sieges, the use of chemical agents and forcible displacement.” The report’s summary adds that “[w]ar crimes, crimes against humanity and gross human rights violations continue apace.”

The carnage is not limited to Syrian government forces, whom the U.N. Independent International Commission of Inquiry says have “committed murder, torture, rape, forcible displacement, enforced disappearance and other inhumane acts.” The report also says that opposition forces “have also committed war crimes, including murder, sentencing and execution without due process, torture, hostage-taking and pillage,” but not on the scale of those committed by Syrian government forces and associated militia.

“War crimes and crimes against humanity have become a daily reality in Syria,” the report says.

The U.N. independent panel on Syria, which the New York Times said “is seen by diplomats as providing the most factual and authoritative record of developments in Syria,” also said that “there are reasonable grounds to believe limited quantities of toxic chemicals were used” in Aleppo and Damascus on March 19, in Aleppo again on April 13 and in Idlib on April 29.


In other news:

  • The Washington Post reports: The nation’s military chiefs have told Congress in writing that they oppose or have strong reservations about a controversial bill that would reshape military law by taking sexual-assault cases out of the hands of commanders, setting up a likely clash with lawmakers who are pushing the idea.
  • The New York Times reports: The Obama administration escalated sanctions pressure against Iran on Monday for the third time in a week, taking actions that could further weaken the country’s already-devalued currency and seriously disrupt its automotive industry, a significant domestic employer and revenue generator for the Iranian government.