A new United Nations report documents war crimes in the conflict in Syria and underlines the raw barbarism of the Islamic militant group ISIS — including the lashing of women, the recruitment of children and public amputations on Fridays.
The report, from a special U.N. commission on Syria, accuses both government forces and ISIS of war crimes and crimes against humanity. It calls out ISIS for torture, murder, “enforced disappearances” and forced displacement.
And it includes this chilling description of ISIS brutality:
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In areas of Syria under ISIS control, particularly in the north and northeast of the country, Fridays are regularly marked by executions, amputations and lashings in public squares. Civilians, including children, are urged to watch. Bodies of those killed are placed on display for several days, terrorizing the local population. Women have been lashed for not abiding by ISIS's dress code. In Ar-Raqqah, children as young as 10 are being recruited and trained at ISIS camps. ISIS has forcibly displaced Kurdish communities in northern Syria. Journalists and other media workers are systematically targeted.
The U.N.'s findings, out Wednesday, come a day after NBC News reported exclusively that an American man, Douglas McAuthur McCain, born in Illinois and raised in Minnesota, was killed fighting for ISIS in Syria.
After the NBC report, U.S. officials warned that dozens of Americans could be fighting at any one time with extremist groups in the region. Intelligence analysts are racing to analyze the threat that hardened fighters may pose when they return home.
The alarm raised by the U.N. report is not limited to ISIS. It accuses the forces of Bashar Assad, the Syrian president, of using chemical weapons, probably chlorine, in eight incidents in western Syria in April or May.
Almost exactly one year ago, reports that Assad forces had used chemical weapons outside Damascus caused an international outcry. A U.S.- and Russian-brokered deal was supposed to strip Syria of chemical weapons.
— Erin McClam