Paulo Pinheiro, the chairman of the International Commission of Inquiry on Syria [official website], said Monday that the vast majority of Syrian casualties are killed in unlawful conventional weapon attacks [press release] and called for an end to weapons being supplied to both Syria's government and rebels. Pinheiro stated that both the groups have caused civilian deaths and had staged attacks on medical personnel and hospitals. Syria's representative said that the Commission of Inquiry had strayed into the "labyrinth of exaggeration" and stated that they had provided more than 250 documents to the Commission which had been ignored. The debate over whether international action in Syria is warranted has become increasingly urgent in light of the use of chemical weapons [JURIST report] on August 21.
The Syrian Civil War [JURIST backgrounder] has been ongoing since 2011 when opposition groups first began protesting the regime of Assad. Last week UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon [official profile] praised [JURIST report] the Syrian government's formal agreement to sign and abide by the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) [text, PDF; OPCD backgrounder]. CWC signatories must agree to "chemically disarm" by destroying chemical weapon stockpiles and creating enforcement mechanisms to ensure that chemical weapons will not be produced, acquired or transferred within their jurisdiction. Rights groups accused [JURIST report] the Syrian government of responsibility for August 21 chemical weapon attacks, which allegedly involved the use of sarin nerve gas. Syria's main opposition group in August urged the UN [JURIST report] to probe numerous massacres they say were committed during Ramadan by forces loyal to Assad. JURIST Guest Columnist Enver Hasani likens the continuing violence in Syria to a purgatory state [JURIST op-ed] arising from the wake of a series of revolutions in 2011 known as the Arab Spring.