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Sep 16, 2013

Militant opposition groups step up crimes in Syria: U.N. report

GENEVA (Reuters) – Killings, crimes and other abuses by rebels, including foreign fighters invoking jihad, or holy war, have increased in northern Syria, U.N. human rights investigators said on Monday.

“Across northern Syria, there has been an upsurge in crimes and abuses committed by extremist anti-government armed groups along with an influx of rebel foreign fighters,” Paulo Pinheiro, head of the inquiry, told the U.N. Human Rights Council.

Sep 13, 2013

Syria attacks hospitals, denies healthcare as ‘weapon of war’: U.N.

GENEVA (Reuters) – Syrian government forces are bombing and shelling hospitals in rebel-held areas to stop sick and wounded getting treatment, acts which constitute war crimes, U.N. investigators said on Friday.

Fighters loyal to President Bashar al-Assad purposefully denied people medical care as a “weapon of war”, they added in a report. They also had details of a smaller number of incidents when rebel forces attacked hospitals.

Sep 13, 2013

Kerry, Lavrov meeting U.N. envoy on Syria

GENEVA/DUBAI (Reuters) – U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov will meet the United Nations special envoy on Syria in Geneva on Friday as they work on a deal that could avert U.S. military action.

Lakhdar Brahimi, who acts for both the world body and the Arab League, was to meet Kerry and Lavrov together at 9:30 a.m. (0730 GMT) on Friday, a U.N. official told Reuters.

Sep 12, 2013

U.S., Russia differ on military force as Syria talks open

GENEVA (Reuters) – U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov opened talks on Thursday on disarming Syria’s chemical weapons programs, but differences emerged at the outset of the expected two-day negotiations.

Kerry reiterated the U.S. position that military force might be needed against Syria if diplomacy over President Bashar al-Assad’s chemical weapons stockpile fails.

Sep 11, 2013

Diplomatic efforts intensify on corralling Syrian chemical arms

GENEVA/UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) – Diplomatic efforts toward placing Syria’s chemical weapons under international control intensified on Wednesday and U.N. investigators concluded Syrian government forces were almost certainly responsible for two May massacres that killed up to 450 civilians in the bloody civil war.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov spoke by phone one day before they meet in Geneva to try to forge a joint strategy on eliminating Syria’s chemical arsenal.

Sep 11, 2013

Syrian forces responsible for Banias massacres: U.N. report

GENEVA (Reuters) – U.N. rights investigators have established that Syrian government forces were almost certainly responsible for two massacres last May in which up to 450 civilians were killed, a report published on Wednesday said.

The report documented eight mass killings in all, attributing all but one to government forces, but said both government and rebel fighters had committed war crimes including murder, hostage-taking and shelling of civilians in their battle for territory.

Sep 11, 2013

Syria war crimes worsen in battle for territory: U.N. report

GENEVA (Reuters) – U.N. human rights investigators said on Wednesday Syrian government forces had massacred civilians, bombed hospitals and committed other war crimes in widespread attacks to recapture territory from rebels this year.

Opposition forces, including Islamist foreign fighters, have also perpetrated war crimes including executions, hostage-taking and shelling of civilian neighborhoods, the investigators said in their latest report, covering the period of May 15-July 15.

Sep 9, 2013

U.N. rights team aims to probe chemical weapons in Syria: del Ponte

GENEVA (Reuters) – U.N. human rights investigators hope to get into Syria soon to try to find out who carried out apparent chemical attacks and other war crimes, Carla del Ponte, of the U.N. commission of inquiry on Syria, said on Monday.

Del Ponte gave no time frame for a visit but said that the team was in touch with U.N. chemical weapons inspectors and awaited their findings from the scene of an August 21 poison gas attack. She said the rights team’s work would continue whether or not the United States carried out mooted punitive military strikes against the Syrian government over the attack.

Sep 1, 2013

Life expectancy gap growing between rich/poor world women – WHO

GENEVA, Sept 2 (Reuters) – Life expectancy for women at 50
has improved, but the gap between poor and rich countries is
growing and could worsen without better detection and treatment
of cardiovascular disease and cancers, the World Health
Organization (WHO) said on Monday.

A WHO study, one of the first to analyse the causes of death
of older women, found that in wealthier countries deaths from
noncommunicable diseases has fallen dramatically in recent
decades, especially from cancers of the stomach, colon, breast
and cervix.

Aug 29, 2013

Military escalation in Syria will worsen civilians’ plight: ICRC

GENEVA (Reuters) – Any escalation of the Syrian crisis following an apparent chemical weapons attack will aggravate civilian suffering, the International Committee of the Red Cross said on Thursday.

Areas plagued by heavy fighting, including the countryside around Damascus, eastern Aleppo and Deir Ezzor province, are already reeling from breakdowns of services such as water, electricity and garbage collection, it said in a statement.