Those difficulties were illustrated Wednesday in findings by a panel from the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva, which is investigating rights violations in Syria. The panel said it was unable to determine conclusively who was responsible for the May 25 massacre of 108 civilians in the western region of Houla, but “considers that forces loyal to the government may have been responsible for many of the deaths.”
While the investigators accused government forces of committing violations on “an alarming scale” in recent months, they also found that both sides had carried out summary executions. And they determined that the nature of the conflict had changed, escalating significantly despite Mr. Annan’s peace entreaties.
The commission said it had also received many reports of summary executions by antigovernment rebels, foreign fighters and people suspected of being informers or collaborators.
A Free Syrian Army soldier told the panel that captured soldiers from the Alawite sect, from which Mr. Assad draws strong support, are usually executed immediately, while soldiers from other sects are given the option of joining the opposition.
The commission drew attention to the plight of children caught in the conflict and the use of sexual violence against men, women and children, particularly by pro-government forces.