Will Syria’s war criminals be let off the hook?

For six years, the United Nations Commission of Inquiry on Syria has been painstakingly gathering information about possible war crimes and crimes against humanity committed during the conflict.

The investigators have produced 13 reports, the evidence in each is harrowing. Villages destroyed, crops burnt, wells poisoned, torture, rape, starvation sieges, mass bombing of civilians, and what only a decade ago might have been unthinkable – chemical weapons.

There is no doubt that war crimes have been committed by all sides, the commission says. In each report there is a demand for “accountability” – that no-one should be allowed to commit such horrific acts and get away with it.

“This would be incredible, a scandal,” says commission member Carla Del Ponte, who describes the violations in Syria as by far the worst she has ever come across. “But nothing happens, only words, words, and more words.”

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