UN investigators criticise Syria 'war crimes'
GENEVA - The members of a UN probe into rights abuses in Syria on Thursday said "crimes against humanity" and "war crimes" were happening in the country, and said they were trying to set up a visit to Damascus.
One of the newest members of the four-person team, renowned former war crimes prosecutor Carla del Ponte, told reporters in Geneva that "crimes against humanity and war crimes for sure" were being committed in Syria.
Del Ponte, who was yanked out of retirement late last month to join the UN's Commission of Inquiry on Syria, said she would participate in the general investigation of tracking and documenting serious rights violations, but that she would perhaps focus most on determining "the high-ranking political and military figures (responsible for) these crimes."
Paulo Pinheiro, the Brazilian head of the commission, meanwhile said the investigators had sent a letter to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad seeking access to the country.
"We expect that he will accept us in Damascus," he said.
The commission was created a just over a year ago, but has yet to actually gain access to Syria. It has however conducted more than 1,000 interview with perpetrators and victims in the conflict, and has previously reported that war crimes appeared to have been committed by both the regime and, to a lesser extent, rebel forces.