World

UN war crimes panel emphasizes Assad government role in daily atrocities

  • In this photo released by the Syrian official news agency SANA, United Nations special envoy to Syria Staffan de Mistura, left, speaks with Syrian President Bashar Assad in Damascus, Syria, Thursday, Sept. 11, 2014. The new U.N. envoy to Syria said “the top priority now is to fight terrorism.” Speaking on his first visit to Damascus following a meeting with Assad on Thursday, Mistura said he will strive “with a renewed energy” to move toward a political settlement to the Syrian conflict. (AP Photo/SANA)

    In this photo released by the Syrian official news agency SANA, United Nations special envoy to Syria Staffan de Mistura, left, speaks with Syrian President Bashar Assad in Damascus, Syria, Thursday, Sept. 11, 2014. The new U.N. envoy to Syria said “the top priority now is to fight terrorism.” Speaking on his first visit to Damascus following a meeting with Assad on Thursday, Mistura said he will strive “with a renewed energy” to move toward a political settlement to the Syrian conflict. (AP Photo/SANA)  (The Associated Press)

  • Brazilian Paulo Pinheiro, Chairperson of the Commission of Inquiry on Syria, listens to a speech after his presentation of the commission's last report on Syria at the Human Rights Session at the European headquarters of the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, Tuesday, Sept. 16, 2014. Pinheiro, told the U.N.'s top human rights body that the government's killing of civilians — often through the use of ubiquitous checkpoints — exceeds the crimes against civilians perpetrated by the militants and other anti-government armed groups. (AP Photo/Keystone, Salvatore Di Nolfi)

    Brazilian Paulo Pinheiro, Chairperson of the Commission of Inquiry on Syria, listens to a speech after his presentation of the commission's last report on Syria at the Human Rights Session at the European headquarters of the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, Tuesday, Sept. 16, 2014. Pinheiro, told the U.N.'s top human rights body that the government's killing of civilians — often through the use of ubiquitous checkpoints — exceeds the crimes against civilians perpetrated by the militants and other anti-government armed groups. (AP Photo/Keystone, Salvatore Di Nolfi)  (The Associated Press)

  • Brazilian Paulo Pinheiro, Chairperson of the Commission of Inquiry on Syria, listens to a speech after his presentation of the commission's last report on Syria at the Human Rights Session at the European headquarters of the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, Tuesday, Sept. 16, 2014. Pinheiro, told the U.N.'s top human rights body that the government's killing of civilians — often through the use of ubiquitous checkpoints — exceeds the crimes against civilians perpetrated by the militants and other anti-government armed groups. (AP Photo/Keystone, Salvatore Di Nolfi)

    Brazilian Paulo Pinheiro, Chairperson of the Commission of Inquiry on Syria, listens to a speech after his presentation of the commission's last report on Syria at the Human Rights Session at the European headquarters of the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, Tuesday, Sept. 16, 2014. Pinheiro, told the U.N.'s top human rights body that the government's killing of civilians — often through the use of ubiquitous checkpoints — exceeds the crimes against civilians perpetrated by the militants and other anti-government armed groups. (AP Photo/Keystone, Salvatore Di Nolfi)  (The Associated Press)

The U.N. commission investigating war crimes in Syria says President Bashar Assad's government is committing the bulk of atrocities inside the war-torn country, exceeding the toll from the horrific massacres perpetrated by Islamic State fighters.

The head of the U.N. commission, Brazilian diplomat and scholar Paulo Sergio Pinheiro, describes the Islamic State extremist group and anti-government armed groups capturing the world's attention as "agents of death and destruction," but emphasizes the government's sieges and attacks in Syria's civil war which has killed over 190,000 people and destabilized the region.

He told the 47-nation U.N. Human Rights Council in Geneva on Tuesday "the Syrian government remains responsible for the majority of the civilian casualties, killing and maiming scores of civilians daily" through shelling, air attacks, checkpoints and interrogation.