Syria accused of torture and 11,000 executions


UN secretary Ban Ki-moon pulls Iran invitation to Geneva talks.

There is clear evidence that Syria has systematically tortured and executed about 11,000 detainees since the start of the uprising, a report by three former war crimes prosecutors says, quoted by the BBC. The investigators examined thousands of still images of dead prisoners reportedly smuggled out by a defector.
One of the authors told the BBC there was evidence of government involvement. Damascus has denied claims of abuse.
The report comes a day before peace talks are due to begin in Switzerland.
The Guardian newspaper in the UK – which along with CNN first unveiled the report – says the release appears timed to coincide with the conference, opening in the resort town of Montreux, and continuing in Geneva two days later.
The talks, known as “Geneva II”, are being seen as the biggest diplomatic effort to end the three-year conflict which has left more than 100,000 dead and millions displaced.
In its annual report, released on Tuesday, Human Rights Watch accuses Russia and China of allowing abuses to take place by blocking action through the UN. It also accuses both government and pro-opposition forces of human rights abuses including torture and extrajudicial killings.
On Monday, the UN has withdrawn its invitation to Iran to join this week’s peace conference on the Syria crisis in Switzerland.
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said he was “deeply disappointed” with Iran over public statements made on Monday that indicated they failed to back the plan to form a Syrian transitional government, which is the basis of the conference. UN spokesman Martin Nesirky said the talks “will proceed without Iran’s participation”.
Acording to The Guardian, Russia’s foreign minister has described the UN decision to rescind its invitation to Iran to join this week’s Syria peace talks in Geneva as a mistake, although not a catastrophe. Sergey Lavrov said on Tuesday that the UN secretary general, Ban Ki-moon’s decision to withdraw his last-minute offer to Iran to attend the conference would have a negative impact on the UN image.
Diplomats had spent Tuesday trying to prevent the collapse of the largest international diplomatic effort to end the three-year conflict, with Iran refusing to concede that its last-minute invitation to attend meant it should endorse a transitional Syrian government.
Ban had belatedly invited Iran – a prominent supporter of Assad – on Sunday. But the invitation enraged the US, Britain and the main Syrian opposition body, which warned it would not turn up in the Swiss town of Montreux unless Iran conceded on the issue of a transitional government – a central pillar of western-backed diplomatic moves to oust President Bashar al-Assad. As soon as Iran’s invitation was rescinded, Syria’s opposition national coalition immediately confirmed its participation in the forthcoming talks, known as Geneva II.
Furthermore, according to israelnationalnews.com, the biggest bloc in Syria’s opposition-in-exile, the Syrian National Council, said on Monday it was quitting the Syrian National Coalition in protest over the peace talks with the Damascus regime.
The National Council said taking part in the talks would renege on its “commitments” to not enter negotiations until Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad left power, something he refuses to do.
The Syrian National Council has been steadfast in its refusal to attend the Geneva talks unless Assad’s resignation is on the agenda.

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