UNITED NATIONS, Aug. 18 (UPI) -- The U.N. human rights office Thursday warned Syria its crackdown on pro-democracy protesters may constitute crimes against humanity.
A fact-finding report on the violence against demonstrators calling for the ouster of Syrian President Bashir Assad that began last March found "a pattern of human rights violations that constitutes widespread or systematic attacks against the civilian population, which may amount to crimes against humanity."
The United Nations estimates as many as 2,000 Syrians were killed between mid-March and mid-July based on 180 witness and victim accounts. The Office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, which produced the report, said the continuing violence may warrant an investigation by the International Criminal Court at The Hague, Netherlands.
"Reports from witnesses indicate that there was a widespread modus operandi to kill civilians using (a) forces on the ground; (b) snipers on rooftops; and (c) air power," the report said. "Consistent with an apparently shoot-to-kill policy, most of the victims' bullet wounds were located in the head, chest and general body area."
International journalists and U.N. monitors have been barred from entering Syria during the uprisings that began after regimes in Tunisia and Egypt were toppled in the Arab Spring. The U.N. Human Rights Council holds a special session on human rights violations in Syria Monday.