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UN investigators urge ICC trials for Syria's war criminals

The Syrian conflict has seen nearly 70,000 people killed since March 2011. Both sides have committed war crime violations such as murder and torture, investigators say.

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"For example, in the attack on the university of Aleppo, there is information that it came from the government side and from the rebel side. If we had been able to enter and examine the site and carry out a scientific investigation, we would have a definitive answer," she said.

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The U.N. report said the ICC was the appropriate institution for the fight against impunity in Syria. "As an established, broadly supported structure, it could immediately initiate investigations against authors of serious crimes in Syria."

Government forces have carried out shelling and air strikes across Syria including Aleppo, Damascus, Deraa, Homs and Idlib, the 131-page report said, citing corroborating satellite images.

"In some incidents, such as in the assault on Harak, indiscriminate shelling was followed by ground operations during which government forces perpetrated mass killing," it said, referring to a town in the southern province of Deraa where residents told them that 500 civilians were killed in August.

"Government forces and affiliated militias have committed extra-judicial executions, breaching international human rights law. This conduct also constitutes the war crime of murder. Where murder was committed as part of a widespread or systematic attack against a civilian population, with knowledge of that attack, it is a crime against humanity," the U.N. report said.

Those forces have targeted bakery queues and funeral processions to spread "terror among the civilian population".

Rebels fighting to topple Assad have also committed war crimes including murder, torture, hostage-taking and using children under age 15 in hostilities, the U.N. report said.

"They continue to endanger the civilian population by positioning military objectives inside civilian areas" and rebel snipers had caused "considerable civilian casualties", it said.

"The violations and abuses committed by anti-government armed groups did not, however, reach the intensity and scale of those committed by government forces and affiliated militia."

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