UN ‘failed to prevent’ Syria crimes: opposition

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Photo showing a wounded Syrian child rests after receiving treatment at a makeshift clinic during Syrian government air strikes on Zamalka, in the rebel enclave of Eastern Ghouta on the outskirts of Damascus on March 17, 2018. (AFP)
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Syrians walk along a destroyed street in the rebel-held town of Arbin in Eastern Ghouta close to Damascus, Mar 16, 2018. (AFP)
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A wounded Syrian rests after receiving treatment at a makeshift clinic during Syrian government air strikes on Zamalka, in the rebel enclave of Eastern Ghouta on the outskirts of Damascus, Mar 17, 2018. (AFP)
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Syrian civilians evacuate from the town of Jisreen in the southern Eastern Ghouta, close to the capital Damascus, on their way to areas under government control on Mar 17, 2018. (AFP)
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Photo showing injured civilians in make shift field clinic in Zamalka in Damascus's Easyern Ghouta, Mar 17, 2018. (AFP)
Updated 17 March 2018
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UN ‘failed to prevent’ Syria crimes: opposition

RIYADH: The head of Syria’s main opposition group on Saturday accused the United Nations of failing to prevent violence raging in the war-wracked country, including the assault on the Eastern Ghouta rebel enclave.
“We hold the United Nations, the Security Council and the international community ... directly responsible for their silence around these crimes and for failing to take action to prevent these crimes,” Nasr Al-Hariri, president of the Syrian Negotiation Commission (SNC), told reporters in Riyadh.
“But let us not forget that the party that holds direct responsibility for the crimes are the Syrian regime and the countries that continue to stand by it.”
Russian-backed Syrian regime forces have waged a blistering assault on Eastern Ghouta that has retaken 70 percent of the enclave near Damascus since February 18.
The offensive has killed around 1,400 civilians, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based war monitor which relies on a network of sources on the ground.
The assault has sparked an exodus with more than 40,000 civilians pouring into surrounding government-held areas over the past 48 hours.
More than 350,000 people have been killed and millions displaced since the Syria war broke out in 2011 with the brutal repression of anti-government


UN investigation delves into Daesh’s crimes against Yazidis

Yazidi activist Nadia Murad won the 2018 Nobel Peace Prize. (AFP)
Updated 56 min 57 sec ago
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UN investigation delves into Daesh’s crimes against Yazidis

  • The team began its work in August, a year after it was approved the UN Security Council
  • The investigation aims to collect and preserve evidence of acts by Daesh in Iraq that may be war crimes

LONDON: A UN investigation into atrocities committed against Yazidis and others in Iraq will do more than simply gather information that will molder in an archive, the probe’s leader said on Wednesday, it will help bring perpetrators to justice.

The team, led by British lawyer Karim Asad Ahmad Khan began its work in August, a year after it was approved the UN Security Council.

Speaking on the sidelines of a London event celebrating Yazidi activist Nadia Murad — who won the 2018 Nobel Peace Prize —  Khan said the investigation will get into full gear in 2019.

“We will be pushing forward with greater capacity next year once we have a budget from the United Nations,” he told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

The investigation aims to collect and preserve evidence of acts by Daesh in Iraq that may be war crimes, crimes against humanity or genocide. In September 2017 — after a year of talks with Iraq — the UN council adopted a resolution asking UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to create the team “to support domestic efforts” to hold the militants accountable.

The evidence gathered is primarily for use by Iraqi authorities.

Whether that evidence will then be shared with international courts, will “be determined in agreement with the Government of Iraq on a case-by-case basis,” according to the resolution.

“This mandate was not created to create simply an archive that would gather dust,” said Khan.

“Our bid is ... to ensure that the best possible evidence is presented, is preserved, is collected. The necessary investigations are committed so that those who committed these horrendous acts are subjected to the vigour of the law.”

UN experts warned in June 2016 that Daesh was committing genocide against the Yazidis in Syria and Iraq, destroying the minority religious community through killings, sexual slavery and other crimes.

Supporters of the Yazidi cause have expressed irritation at delays the probe has faced.

“Four years have passed since the crimes of genocide committed against Yazidis but we have seen no justice as yet for the victims and survivors,” Karwan Tahir, the Kurdish regional government’s representative in Britain told the London event.

About 7,000 women and girls were captured in northwest Iraq in August 2014 and held by Daesh in Mosul where they were tortured and raped.

Murad, a young Yazidi woman who was enslaved and raped by Islamic State fighters in Mosul in 2014, and international human rights lawyer Amal Clooney have long pushed Iraq to allow UN investigators to help.