Chlorine Gas, Public Executions Frequent In Syria: UN Report

A new U.N. report on Syria's civil war details war crimes committed by both sides, including public executions and the use of chlorine gas.
Posted at 10:38 AM, Aug 27, 2014

As the U.S. considers heightened involvement in Syria, the U.N. has a report detailing alleged atrocities committed there over the last six months by both government and opposition forces. (Video via The White House)

At a press conference in Geneva, representatives released the latest report on the Syrian conflict, which covers the six months between January and July of this past year. (Video via BBC)

In the 45-page report, the U.N. writes both sides have indiscriminately killed civilians and perpetrated other war crimes such as rape, torture and enforced disappearances. "The conduct of the warring parties in the Syrian Arab Republic has caused civilians immeasurable suffering." 

Many media outlets have focused on two things from the report: the alleged use of chlorine gas by the Syrian government and reported public executions conducted by ISIS militants. 

For example, The New York Times, running the headline "Public Executions Widespread in Syria," chooses to focus on the part of the report which describes frequent beheadings by ISIS militants. Citing the report, the Times wrote, "Some victims' bodies were displayed on crucifixes for days afterward as a warning to local residents, the report added."

The BBC, on the other hand, chose to lead with the report's account of the government's continued use of gas attacks on opposition forces and civilians, citing the eight separate incidents of its use contained in the report. 

But some analysts say one of the main points is the overlap between the two sides when it comes to inflicting terror on the civilian populations. 

SAM KILEY, SKY NEWS FOREIGN AFFAIRS EDITOR: "That is the use of a weapon not only intended to destroy but to terrorize, and the use of this tactic of terror, of course, is being used at the same time by the Islamic State."

In the press conference that accompanied the report's release, the chair of the U.N.'s commission, Paulo Pinheiro, said, "The international community's failure in its most elemental duties ... has been matched on the ground by an abandonment of even the pretense of an adherence to norms of international law."

The U.N. report comes one day after the news that an American citizen was killed in Syria fighting for ISIS forces.


JIM SCIUTTO, CNN: "He's an American with an American name: Douglas McArthur McCain."

The 33-year-old died in fighting over the weekend and is reportedly the first American to be killed while fighting for the terrorist group. (Video via Press TV)

The U.N.'s commission, which was created three years ago, will continue its investigation into the Syrian civil war. 

This video includes images from Getty Images.