Via The Guardian: Bashar al-Assad implicated in Syria war crimes, says UN. Excerpt:
A UN inquiry has found "massive evidence" that the Syrian president, Bashar al-Assad, is implicated in war crimes as the latest reported death toll in the country's civil war reached 126,000.
Navi Pillay, the UN's human rights chief, said a commission of inquiry into human rights violations in Syria "has produced massive evidence … [of] very serious crimes, war crimes, crimes against humanity" and that "the evidence indicates responsibility at the highest level of government, including the head of state."
The report is the first time the UN body has accused Assad directly and it is unclear how it will affect January's Geneva II peace conference to try to end the country's bloody conflict, now in its 33rd month.
Damascus swiftly dismissed Pillay's remarks. "She has been talking nonsense for a long time and we don't listen to her," Faisal Miqdad, the deputy foreign minister, told AP.
In May, Pillay said the conflict in Syria had "become an intolerable affront to the human conscience".
The UN commissioner's statement, reported from Geneva, coincided with the publication of a new death toll of 125,835 for the last 33 months. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR), based in the UK, said the dead included 44,381 civilians, including 6,627 children and 4,454 women. The SOHR said at least 27,746 opposition fighters had been killed, among them just over 19,000 civilians who took up arms to fight the Assad regime. The opposition toll also included 2,221 army defectors and 6,261 non-Syrians who joined the rebels.
The figures cover the period from 18 March 2011 – when the Syrian uprising began with protests in the southern city of Deraa – to 1 December 2013.