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Syria latest: UN human rights chief warns of 'consequences' for both sides

“The world does not forget or forgive crimes like these,” Navi Pillay said of reported atrocities against Syrian civilians.

A damaged car in the streets of Azaz, 32km from Aleppo.
A damaged car in the streets of Azaz, 32km from Aleppo.
Image: AP Photo/Turkpix/PA

UN HUMAN RIGHTS CHIEF Navi Pillay has expressed her deep concern over the increasing threat to civilians as the conflict between government forces and rebel fighters escalates.

Pillay is calling on all sides involved in the conflict to protect civilians and abide by their obligations under international human rights law – or face the consequences.

“Civilians and civilian objects – including homes and other property, businesses, schools and places of worship – must be protected at all times,” she said earlier today. “All parties, including the Government and opposition forces, must ensure that they distinguish between civilian and military targets.”

The human rights chief noted that under international humanitarian law, armed forces are required to give “effective warning” to civilians ahead of attacks.

She said that as-yet unconfirmed reports of human rights atrocities including summary executions and snipers killing civilians coupled with the reported build-up of forces around Aleppo “bodes ill” for the city’s residents.

“Such attacks are also continuing in other major towns such as Homs and Deir-ez-Zur. Already the consequences for civilians have been devastating, with many thousands killed and injured and between 1 and 1.5 million now reported to have fled their homes,” Pillay said.

Those committing atrocities against civilians “should not believe that they will escape justice”, she warned both the pro-government and rebel fighters. “The world does not forget or forgive crimes like these.”

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