UN has list of top Syrian leaders for crimes probe

GENEVA (AP) — The United Nations has a secret list of top Syrian officials who could face investigation for crimes against humanity carried out by Syria’s security forces against government opponents, a panel of U.N. human rights experts said Thursday.

The U.N. experts indicated the list goes as high as President Bashar Assad but declined to say exactly which or how many names are on it.

Thousands of Syrians have died in the Assad regime’s crackdown since March and the panel, citing what it called a reliable source, said at least 500 children are among the dead.

“A reliable body of evidence exists that, consistent with other verified circumstances, provides reasonable grounds to believe that particular individuals, including commanding officers and officials at the highest levels of government, bear responsibility for crimes against humanity and other gross human rights violations,” said the report by the U.N.-appointed Independent International Commission of Inquiry on Syria.

It said the panel gave the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay a sealed envelope containing the names of these people for future investigations by “competent authorities.” Pillay herself has previously called for Syria to be referred to the International Criminal Court in The Hague.

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