As the Syrian civil war drags on into its third summer, the conflict only grows larger and more vicious, with Hezbollah, Israel, Turkey, Russia, and even the North Koreans joining in the fight. Both the United Nations and Human Rights Watch have released new reports on the carnage created by the rebellion and they paint a frightening picture of a conflict that seems further than it has even been from a peaceful reconciliation. The U.N. report accuses both sides of committing war crimes, including "crimes against humanity and gross human rights violations" such as summary executions and attacks on civilians.
The U.N. also claims that there are "reasonable grounds" to believe that chemical weapons have been used at least four times during the war, but much like earlier reports from American officials, they refuse to confirm who might be behind it. Because U.N. experts have not been allowed into the country to investigate, they say that they can't rule with any degree of certainty about who was behind the attacks, suggesting that even the rebels could be behind them.
But in another report that is arguably more disturbing than the chemical attacks, Human Rights Watch claims that 147 bodies have been found the river running through the city of Aleppo between January and March of this year, and that all appear to have been executed by government forces or their supporters. More than 230 bodies have actually been recovered but HRW was only able to positively identify 147 of the victims, some as young as 11. The river in question has become the unofficial dividing line of the city, separating the government controlled areas, from those neighborhoods currently in the hands of rebels.
Most disturbingly, these "official" crimes only seem to scratch the surface of the atrocities being committed everyday across the nation. The rest either go unreported or are impossible to verify, despite being chronicled on blogs, Facebook, and YouTube. One of the most recent and disturbing, was posted just yesterday. It shows a woman who allegedly raped, then shot by an Assad solider and left in the street as bait for rescuers, who were then killed by snipers as they tried to save her.
Part of the reason for the increased brutality is that Syria has become more than just a war between Assad and his people. Hezbollah, which has always positioned itself as a anti-Israeli resistance movement has wholeheartedly joined the fight on behalf of Bashar al-Assad, hoping to preserve their alliance with Syria and Iran. The Lebanese Shiite group fears a future Syria dominated by Sunni rebels (making the conflict a more sectarian battle every day), but should Assad fall, the repercussions will be felt in Lebanon and beyond. Their involvement also threatens to pull in Israel, as well, sparking fears of a larger regional war.
And finally, even North Korea can't resist getting involved. Rebel groups claim that more than a dozen officers from Pyongyang's army have been spotted in Syria assisting the regime plans. (Although Russia has denied earlier claims that their surface-to-air missiles had been shipped to Damascus.) It seems everyone has a stake in the outcome of this war, which probably explains why it's nowhere close to being resolved.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.