UNITED NATIONS, April 19 (UPI) -- The Syrian people have never witnessed the sort of the sexual violence attributed to supporters of jihad, the Syrian ambassador to the United Nations said.
U.N. Undersecretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Valerie Amos painted a grim picture of the humanitarian crisis during Syria's civil war. She said more than 2 million Syrians have been displaced since conflict erupted in early 2011.
"This brutal conflict is not only shattering Syria's present; it is also destroying its future," she told the U.N. Security Council.
U.N. special representative on sexual violence in conflict Zainab Hawa Bangura said much of the displaced population in Syria were victims of sexual violence and torture.
"We know that war can be brutal but to fight it on the bodies of women and children, humiliating and punishing them and subjecting them to absolute terror, can never be acceptable," she said.
Bangura added that both parties to the conflict, including Islamic radicals, were suspected of committing acts of sexual violence.
Syrian Ambassador to the United Nations Bashar Jaafari bemoaned the violence, saying his country has never seen "anything like (these kinds) of heinous crimes committed by the thugs of jihad and bandits."
Some of anti-government forces in Syria are aligned with al-Qaida, complicating Western support for opponents of Syrian President Bashar Assad.