By Nina Larson, AFP
GENEVA — Public executions, amputations, lashings and mock crucifixion are a regular fixture in jihadist-controlled areas of Syria, a U.N. probe charged Wednesday, also accusing Damascus of repeatedly using chemical weapons against civilians. “Executions in public spaces have become a common spectacle on Fridays” in parts of Syria under control of the jihadist Islamic State (IS), the independent Commission of Inquiry on the human rights situation in Syria said. In its latest report, the four-member commission detailed a litany of horrors committed by IS, including the beheading of boys as young as 15, amputations and lashings in public squares as residents, including children, are forced to watch. The group “seeks to destroy and remold humanity in its image,reaking havoc on civilians, minorities and the basic freedoms of women and children,” commission head Paulo Pinheiro told reporters in Geneva. He described how bodies of those killed were placed on public display, “creating an atmosphere of fear and terror.” IS, which declared a “caliphate” in an area spanning northern Iraq and eastern Syria, is also recruiting and training children as young as 10, with teens being used in active combat and suicide-bombing missions, the report said.
The jihadists, who sparked worldwide outrage last week when they released a video showing the beheading of U.S. journalist James Foley, are guilty of widespread crimes against humanity in Syria, the commission said. Pinheiro emphasized, though, that IS “does not have the monopoly of brutality in the Syrian conflict.” In their 45-page report, covering the period from January 20 to July 15, Pinheiro and his colleagues also detailed a wide range of crimes against humanity and war crimes committed by the Syrian government and other armed opposition groups. The government, which during the first years of the conflict was blamed for the lion’s share of abuses and deaths, had since January continued to kill hundreds of men, women and children every week due to the “indiscriminate firing of missiles and barrel bombs into civilian areas,” the report found. Damascus Using Chemical Weapons