Amnesty International (AI) [advocacy website] on Monday accused Syrian president Bashar al-Assad's forces of committing war crimes [report, PDF] and crimes against humanity on Palestinian and Syrian civilians in Yarmouk, on the outskirts of Damascus. The report, entitled "Squeezing the Life Out of Yarmouk: War Crimes Against Besieged Civilians," discusses the deaths [press release] of nearly 200 people since the tightening of the siege and cutting off of access to food and medical supplies in July, with 128 of those deaths caused by starvation. The report also states that government forces and government allies have repeatedly attacked civilian buildings, such as schools, hospitals and mosques in Yarmouk. AI's regional director, Philip Luther, stated [Reuters report] that the siege of Yarmouk amounted to "collective punishment of the civilian population," going on to say that the Syrian government must end the siege immediately and allow humanitarian efforts access to assist the citizens. Despite efforts by the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) [official website] to provide aid during January and February, attempts to reach a truce in Yarkmouk to allow for food deliveries to the starving people have repeatedly collapsed [AP report].
The Syrian Civil War has persisted for almost three years. The conflict has been highlighted by countless human rights violations and use of chemical weaponry, which has created mounting pressure among the international community to find an end to the conflict. Earlier this month the UN Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic [official website] urged the international community [JURIST report] to respond to recent and reoccurring crimes against humanity perpetrated by both government and non-government entities. In February, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights reported [JURIST report] that both sides have been committing human rights violations. The day before, Syria agreed [JURIST report] to dispose of their chemical weapons. The UN released a report [JURIST report] earlier this month to the Security Council, which highlights the severe suffering faced by children in Syria during the period between March 2011 and November 2013. The report states that the Syrian government and military allies have killed and tortured extensive numbers of children, while opposition forces have recruited children to aid in combat and have summarily executed children, as well.