United Nations-appointed investigators have condemned likely war crimes by all parties in Syria’s protracted conflict.
In a report released on Tuesday, the UN Commission of Inquiry on Syria said hospitals, schools, markets and homes had been attacked by all sides.
The report highlighted the military campaign launched by government forces in late 2019 to retake the last remaining areas in the rebel-held north-western city of Idlib.
It also said UN-designated terrorist group Hayat Tahrir al-Sham indiscriminately shelled densely populated civilian areas, “spreading terror” in government-held areas.
According to the report, commissioned by the UN Human Rights Council, civilian targets were bombed from the air and from the ground.
It said government forces also used cluster munitions in their attacks without regard to civilians, indicating possible war crimes.
Chairperson of the probe panel, Paulo Pinheiro, said it was “completely abhorrent” that civilians continued to be indiscriminately attacked or targeted after more than nine years.
“Children were shelled at school, parents were shelled at the market, patients were shelled at the hospital…entire families were bombarded even while fleeing.
“What is clear from the military campaign is that pro-government forces and UN-designated terrorists flagrantly violated the laws of war and the rights of Syrian civilians,” Pinheiro said.
The report added that several locations protected by international law in the country’s northwest were destroyed in aerial and ground attacks.
It said some of the attacks, carried out between November 2019 and June, involved the use of cluster munitions.
The investigators said in all 52 attacks were carried out by all parties comprising 17 on hospitals and medical facilities, 14 on schools, 12 on homes and nine on markets.
They said such acts, if proven in court, would amount to the war crimes of launching indiscriminate attacks, and deliberate attacks on protected objects.