8:03am

Wed August 15, 2012
The Two-Way

Syrian Rebels Set Off Bomb Near U.N. Team's Hotel

Originally published on Wed August 15, 2012 8:59 am

An expert panel for the U.N. concludes that both Syrian government troops and its allied militias have committed crimes against humanity in the country's civil war.

Some of the enumerated war crimes include murder, torture, rape and indiscriminate attacks against civilians. The Syrian rebels also committed the same war crimes, but the U.N. expert panel found these abuses didn't occur as frequently or against as many people.

The U.N.'s first evidence of Syrian war crimes was released last February; as Mark wrote, experts had evidence of grave human rights abuses perpetrated by the Syrian government. This was published before the repeated heinous massacres of civilians, including the one in Houla last May, where dozens of children were slain.

Our original post below reported on a bombing in Damascus; this story's headline was changed to reflect the breaking news.

At least one blast in Damascus, Syria, close by a hotel used by U.N. observers apparently injured three people today. A spokesman for the Free Syrian Army, the main rebel group, claimed responsibility for the bomb and said the attacks targeted Syrian security officials, notes Al Jazeera.

Spokesman Abu al-Noor said rebels hid as many as eight explosive canisters near a Syrian military building and timed them to detonate in the middle of the meeting. He added the rebels believed dozens of high ranking officers were there.

It's not clear who was hurt, but none of the U.N. observers was injured, according to Syria's state media. That report acknowledges only one bombing behind a hotel, and says the explosive device was attached to a fuel tank by terrorists.

Four weeks ago, a bomb killed four key Syrian officials who were close to President Bashar Assad. Bombs were planted inside a government building where the defense minister, intelligence chief and senior generals were meeting. One of the dead was Assad's brother-in-law.

The U.N. Security Council meets tomorrow for a briefing on Syria and the observer mission's status, notes Reuters. Diplomats will likely discuss the prospective new peace envoy for Syria, Lakdar Brahimi, who may replace outgoing U.N./Arab League envoy Kofi Annan. Annan quit after acknowledging he could not find a way to solve the growing civil violence between the Syrian government and rebels.

Brahimi hasn't formally accepted the job, saying he wants the deeply divided Security Council's strong support for his work.

Copyright 2012 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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