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U.N. damns Syria's human rights record

GENEVA, Switzerland, Aug. 18 (UPI) -- Syrian military forces used snipers and other methods to kill people demonstrating against their government, a U.N. report determined.

The U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights office published an 84-page report on atrocities allegedly committed by Syrian forces. Its report covered a period from March 15-July 15.

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The OHCHR found that Syrian military and security forces, including a civilian militia known as Shabbiha, took part in abuses against the civilian population.

"Witness accounts indicate that the armed forces actively participated in the killing of unarmed civilians, in imposing sieges on cities or towns, and were complicit in the commission of collective punishments," the report read.

Syrian President Bashar Assad faced international condemnation Thursday for the bloodshed in his country. U.S. President Barack Obama, in a terse message condemning the "brutality" of the Syrian regime, said it was time for Assad to step down.

Washington's European allies immediately followed suit. The EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs Catherine Ashton said the European Union "notes the complete loss of Bashar Assad's legitimacy in the eyes of the Syrian people and the necessity for him to step aside."

Assad reportedly told the United Nations that military action had ended. Nevertheless, Navi Pillay, the U.N. high commissioner for human rights, said she would brief the U.N. Security Council about the atrocities and scheduled a special session for Monday at the Human Rights Council.

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