UN Syria panel says ISIL committing genocide against Yazidis
GENEVA – The Associated Press
REUTERS photoA U.N. investigative panel on Syria says the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) is committing genocide and other war crimes against the Yazidi community in Iraq and Syria, and wants countries to do more to stop it.
The Council of Inquiry on Syria issued its first report June 16 specifically looking at ISIL crimes against Yazidis following the group’s attack on unarmed Yazidi communities in northwestern Iraq in August 2014. Many Yazidis were taken into Syria.
The report says ISIL still holds over 3,200 Yazidi women and children.
The 41-page report cited slave markets in Syria where Yazidi women and girls are sold exclusively to ISIL fighters. It says ISIL has within the last year begun holding online slave auctions with an encrypted application to circulate photos of captured Yazidi women and girls.
Meanwhile, a 48-hour truce took hold in Syria’s war-torn Aleppo city on June 16 as key regime backer Russia blamed the United States for the lack of progress in peace talks, AFP reported.
The local cease-fire came hours after U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry warned Moscow that Washington’s patience was running out over breaches of a nationwide truce.
Aleppo has seen some of the worst fighting in a war that has killed more than 280,000 people, but there is deep scepticism that the latest halt to fighting in the northern city will last.
Peace talks aimed at ending the five-year conflict have stalled and the Feb. 27 countrywide cease-fire between the regime and non-jihadist rebels lies in tatters.
“There is no progress in the political process,” Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said at an economic forum in Saint Petersburg, referring to Syria.
He accused Washington, which supports Syrian rebels, of being “unable or unwilling to put pressure on its allies in the region.”
Nevertheless, direct contact between Russia and the United States about Syria has taken place “without any hysteria,” he added.
The new 48-hour cease-fire was announced by Moscow late June 15 in a bid to halt violence in the city, split since 2012 between a regime-held west and a rebel-controlled east.
“On Russia’s initiative, a ‘regime of silence’ has been introduced in Aleppo for 48 hours from 00:01 16 June with the goal of lowering the level of armed violence and stabilizing the situation,” Russian Defense Ministry said.
The statement did not specify who Russia has discussed the two-day cease-fire with.