As the United States considers airstrikes against ISIL targets in Syria, the United Nations says that both the Assad regime and ISIL are committing horrific war crimes as they battle for control of the country.
Last week, as we noted, U.S. officials began hinting that American airstrikes against ISIL might extend from Iraq into Syria with the backdrop of the beheading of American journalist James Foley brought public focus back to ISIL. Then, on Monday, there was word that the United States had been conducting surveillance over possible targets in Syria, much to the chagrin of Syrian officials who have said American airstrikes would be an act of war.
Now, the United States has officially ruled out any coordination with the Assad regime on strikes against Islamist groups like ISIL in Syria, despite the fact that the Assad regime will undoubtedly benefit from such action. The act of coordination is what's politically unpalatable for both Assad and Obama. As The Washington Post reported:
Despite the shared U.S. and Syrian interest in defeating Islamist militants in the region, there will be no cooperation with Assad, State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said Tuesday.
“We’re not going to ask for permission from the Syrian regime,” she said.
Meanwhile, the humanitarian crisis in Syria continues its horrible spiral. Earlier this month, the United Nations made its grim pronouncement that nearly 200,000 people had been killed in Syria. In a 45-page report, the United Nations explained just how gruesome it's getting, not just with the long-documented atrocities of the Assad regime, but also now with ISIL forces.
Here's how The Guardian summed up some of the government's doings:
Syrian government forces have dropped barrel bombs on civilian areas, including some believed to contain the chemical agent chlorine in eight incidents in April, and have committed other war crimes that should be prosecuted, they said in a 45-page report issued in Geneva on Wednesday.
Over 11,000 people have reportedly been killed in Syrian jails.
As for ISIL-controlled areas, public executions are becoming part of a grim Friday routine. Here's a tidbit from the U.N. report:
Executions in public spaces have become a common spectacle on Fridays in Ar Raqqah and ISIS-controlled areas of Aleppo governorate. ISIS informs residents beforehand and encourages them to attend. In some cases, ISIS forces passers-by to attend.
Children have been present at the executions, which take the form of beheading or shooting in the head at close range. Before executions, ISIS fighters announce the victims' crimes. Bodies are placed on public display, often on crucifixes, for up to three days, serving as a warning to local residents.