- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 11, 2013

As discussions intensify in the international community about what to do over Syria’s chemical weapon use, a panel of U.N. human rights investigators came forward Wednesday with some new findings, implicating both sides in war crimes.

The Commission of Inquiry said that its latest report implicates both Syrian President Bashar Assad’s regime and rebel fighters in murders, tortures, rapes and random attacks on civilians — and both sides acted with impunity, absent fear of punishment or retribution, the New York Times reported Wednesday.

The full findings are due to be presented at the U.N. Human Rights Council gathering in Geneva on Monday.

But the new findings of crimes against humanity will certainly fire up those in the United States who already oppose the American taxpayer funding of rebel forces with $1 billion in non-military aid. And it will likely give pause to any in Congress who are on the fence about applying military force in Syria, as punishment for Mr. Assad’s use of chemical weapons in an area outside Damascus that left more than 1,000 dead. Mr. Assad, for his part, still denies unleashing the chemical attack.

Congress has a week to decide whether to send in a targeted military strike, or continue the diplomatic route and wait for the results of a Russian-Syrian agreement to turn chemical weapons over to the control of the international community.

This new report that would seem to give further credence to those who argue the rebel fighters in Syria are just as militaristic as the regime and hold interests as antithetical to America’s as Mr. Assad’s.

“Relentless shelling has killed thousands of civilians and displaced the populations of entire towns,” reads an excerpt from the report. “Massacres and other unlawful killings are perpetrated with impunity. An untold number of men, children and women have disappeared. Many have died in detention. The perpetrators of these violations and crimes, on all sides, act in defiance of international law. They do not fear accountability. Referral to justice is imperative.”

The U.N. panel did make clear in the report that the regime was responsible for more atrocities than the rebel fighters, the latter of whom often fought with homemade bombs and weapons.

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