A U.N. report released Thursday says the Syrian army and armed activists both have committed human rights abuses, but most of the serious human rights violations documented by the Independent International Commission of Inquiry were committed by the Syrian army and security services as part of military or search operations in locations known for hosting defectors or those perceived to be supportive of anti-government armed groups.
The independent commission condemned the indiscriminate nature of a series of explosions that have inflicted a heavy death toll in Damascus, Idlib, Aleppo and elsewhere, the Office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights said.
Widespread pillaging and burning of homes, as well as the systematic denial, in some areas, of food, water and medical care was also reported.
The commission said it noted "'the intensity of the violence"in Syria, as well as the increasingly organized nature of armed groups in some areas. While government troops previously responded primarily to demonstrations, they now face armed and well-organized fighters who have been bolstered by defectors who joined them, the report said.
Syrian troops continue to use lethal force against anti-government demonstrations in Idlib, Homs, Aleppo, Hama, Damascus and Dar'a and in numerous villages throughout the country. Civilians, including children, are frequently among those killed and injured during attacks on protests and the bombardment of towns and villages by state forces.
"In areas where anti-government armed groups hold sway, boys older than 14 years are reportedly targeted as members of such groups," the report said. "Children, including boys as young as 10 years of age, detained by state forces, repeatedly indicate that they are tortured to admit that older male members of their family are "Free Syrian Army" soldiers or supporters."
Wounded children have been unable to seek treatment due to fear of being perceived as a supporter of the anti-government armed groups or fear of being beaten in health facilities. Several primary and secondary schools have been targeted by state forces, the report said.
The commission criticized anti-government armed troops for abducting civilians and government troops to enable prisoner exchanges. The anti-government activists have also used children, medical porters, messengers and cooks for units in the field, the report said.