The UN’s human rights chief has described the Syrian conflict as the “worst man-made disaster since World War II,” citing widespread torture and a “tidal wave of bloodshed and atrocity.” “Today, in a sense the entire country has become a torture chamber: a place of savage horror and absolute injustice”, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights ZeidRa’ad al-Hussein said in a statement on March 14. He called for the release of tens of thousands of prisoners being held by the warring sides in Syria and said that bringing the perpetrators of crimes, including torture, to justice was necessary for reaching a lasting peace. Zeid also said efforts to end “this senseless carnage” had been repeatedly vetoed, an apparent reference to Russia and China’s steps to protect President Bashar al-Assad by blocking Western-backed UN Security Council resolutions.
Turkey-backed rebels have largely taken control of Syria’s al-Bab from Islamic State militants, Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said on Tuesday, but a war monitoring group said the jihadists still controlled most of the town. “Al-Bab has been largely taken under control. Our aim is to prevent the opening of corridors from territories controlled by terrorist organizations to Turkey,” Yildirim said in a speech to lawmakers from his ruling AK Party in parliament. However, the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the militants remained in control of the northern Syrian town.