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The U.N. panel was denied entry to Syria by the government, which accused it of ignoring official information and exceeding its mandate. The panel instead gathered much of its information from sources outside the country, including human rights activists and Syrian army defectors.

The report claims the ruling Baath Party’s National Security Bureau was responsible for translating government policies into military operations that has led to the systematic arrest or killing of civilians.

It says the four main intelligence and security agencies reporting directly to Mr. Assad — Military Intelligence, Air Force Intelligence, the General Intelligence Directorate and the Political Security Directorate — “were at the heart of almost all operations.”

The report details how businessmen helped hire and arm informal pro-government militias known as the “Shabbiha.”

“In a number of operations, the commission documented how Shabbiha members were strategically employed to commit crimes against humanity and other gross violations,” it said.

The report also identifies 38 detention centers “for which the commission documented cases of torture and ill-treatment since March 2011.”

Armed opposition groups, loosely connected under the umbrella of the Free Syrian Army, also committed some gross human rights abuses, the panel said. It cited the torture and execution of soldiers or suspected pro-government militia members.

But such actions were “not comparable in scale and organization with those carried out by the state,” it added.