The so-called Islamic State group is committing war crimes and crimes against humanity on a large scale in areas under its control in war-ravaged Syria, UN investigators said Friday.
In its first report focused squarely on acts by the IS group, the UN Commission of Inquiry on Syria presented a horrifying picture of what life is like in areas controlled by the “extremist jihadists”, including massacres, beheadings, torture, sexual enslavement and forced pregnancy.
“The commanders of ISIS have acted wilfully, perpetrating these war crimes and crimes against humanity with clear intent of attacking persons with awareness of their civilian or ‘hors de combat’ (non-combat) status,” the report said.
“They are individually criminally responsible for these crimes,” it stated, and called on the perpetrators to be brought to justice, for instance before the International Criminal Court.
Based on more than 300 interviews with people who have fled areas under the control of the ISIS terrorists, as well as photographs and video footage released by the IS group itself, the report paints a blood-chilling picture of life under its rule.
The IS group, which has declared an “Islamic caliphate” in an area spanning northern Iraq and eastern Syria, is seeking to “subjugate civilians under its control and dominate every aspect of their lives through terror, indoctrination,” the report found.
Massacres, beheading boys as young as 15, and amputations and lashings in public squares that residents — including children — are forced to watch figure on the list of crimes, as does the widespread use of child soldiers, stoning women to death for suspected adultery and holding women as sexual slaves and forcing them to bear children for the fighters.
One person who fled the group’s stronghold Raqqa told investigators he had seen a man punished in a public square for looting.
“Two people held the victim tightly while a third man stretched his arm over a large wooden board. A fourth man cut off the victim’s hand,” the witness said.
“It took a long time. One of the people who was standing next to me vomited and passed out due to the horrific scene,” they added.
The so-called Islamic State group Thursday released an audio recording it said was of chief Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, days after air strikes on terrorist leaders in Iraq sparked rumours he was wounded or killed.
UN Probe published when The leader of the ISIS group said it will fight to the last man, in a strident audio recording released Thursday that was his first public statement since a U.S.-led alliance launched airstrikes agains this fighters in Iraq and Syria.
The statement was posted online six days after Iraqi officials told The Associated Press that Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was wounded in an airstrike in Iraq. It was not clear whether the recording was made before or after the incident.
In the 17-minute recording, al-Baghdadi vowed to fight the “crusader campaign” to the bitter end. The self-styled caliph called on Muslims to wage holy war everywhere, and to attack and kill “apostates” in Saudi Arabia and Yemen specifically.
The U.N. Human Rights Council said in September it will send a team to Iraq to investigate crimes by the Islamic State.
A United Nations official later said evidence strongly indicates that the ISIS group’s assault on Iraq’s Yazidi religious minority is “an attempt to commit genocide.”