UN panel: Crimes against humanity spread in Syria

(AP Photo)

GENEVA (AP) – A U.N. panel is finding evidence of crimes by both the Syrian government and by the Islamic State group that is fighting against government troops there.

The independent commission says the government has likely used chlorine gas to attack civilians. And it says the Islamic State group has committed crimes against humanity with attacks on civilians in two provinces.

It’s the first time the U.N. has assigned blame for use of the chemical agent.

According to the report, victims and medical workers described symptoms caused by exposure to chemicals, and witnesses told of a chlorine-like smell, immediately after government helicopters bombed civilian areas on eight occasions in April.

The commission also noted the widespread and systematic killings of civilians by Islamic State, which now controls much of northern and eastern Syria.

The findings mean U.N. officials now believe Islamic State has committed crimes against humanity in Syria and Iraq, the two countries in which the group has carved out a self-styled caliphate.

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