A panel of United Nations investigators has issued a stark warning that human rights abuses and violations in Syria continue to create conditions conducive to further violence and radicalization, despite diplomatic efforts aimed at stabilizing the country, including its re-admission to the League of Arab States.
The Independent International Commission of Inquiry on Syria, composed of three members, delivered this grim assessment to the UN Human Rights Council during a presentation.
In response to the commission’s findings, a majority of the 42 countries in the meeting expressed deep concern about ongoing allegations of crimes against humanity and war crimes perpetrated by the Syrian regime.
“Nearly 12 years into this conflict, the parties involved continue to commit war crimes and violate fundamental human rights,” said Paulo Pinheiro, chair of the commission, addressing the council. He further lamented the dire state of Syria, with its fragmented governance, a crippled economy, and countless destroyed homes, forcing Syrian youth to flee their homeland as they no longer see a future there.
During the first half of the current year, despite ongoing diplomatic efforts, Syrians have continued to endure atrocities, including killings, disappearances, torture, arbitrary detentions, and forced displacement. These violations persist not only at the hands of the Syrian state but also by other main actors controlling significant portions of the territory, including the UN-designated terrorist group Hayat Tahriri Al-Sham, the Syrian National Army, and the Syrian Democratic Forces in northeastern Syria.
The commission’s report also documents attacks by Syrian forces and five foreign armies still operating within Syria, including Russian and Israeli forces, as well as Turkish-backed militias.
Paulo Pinheiro emphasized that escalating unrest, economic collapse, and the persistence of human rights abuses make Syria an unsafe destination for refugees seeking to return. Some refugees who have attempted to return have faced detention, mistreatment by Syrian security forces, or criminal gangs. Some have been subjected to blackmail for their release, while others have been handed over to security services. Tragically, individuals, including children, have gone missing in some cases.
The investigators also criticized the reluctance of countries to repatriate their nationals detained in Al Hawl and Al Rawj camps by the U.S.-backed Kurdish Syrian Democratic Forces. The living conditions in these camps, home to around 50,000 people, primarily women and children, have been described as cruel and inhuman, infringing upon personal dignity.
Pinheiro stressed the significance of repatriation efforts and emphasized that the only human rights-compliant solution for foreign nationals in northeastern Syria is repatriation.
Syria’s ambassador to the UN in Geneva, Haydar Ali Ahmad, rejected the commission’s report, labeling it as biased and containing contradictory and false information. He accused the commission of being a tool of incitement against the Syrian government and called for the withdrawal of American and Turkish forces as the only means to improve the situation. He argued that such a move would facilitate the return of refugees and internally displaced persons while lifting all illegally imposed unilateral coercive measures on the country.