Syrian army snipers are deliberately targeting women and small children, and its security forces are dragging wounded people out of hospitals to be tortured, according to a United Nations report accusing the regime of crimes against humanity. Fragmentation mortar bombs have been fired into densely populated neighborhoods, and the orders for "gross human rights violations" have come from "the highest levels of armed forces and the government," the report states.
The report found that the insurgent Free Syrian Army has also committed abuses, but they were "not comparable in scale and organization to those carried out by the state," the New York Times notes. The UN investigators provided a list of regime officials implicated in abuses, believed to include President Bashar al-Assad. But it will remain sealed until an international human rights court can investigate, a move Russia and China have blocked. The US, along with European and Arab nations, is preparing to demand that Syria call a cease fire in order to allow humanitarian aid to reach the worst-hit areas, reports AP. (Read more Syria stories.)