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The armed conflict that has been ongoing since 2012 (following a peaceful uprising that started one year earlier) has led to human rights abuses of extreme gravity, and on an exceptional scale. Armed groups commit war crimes and gross human rights abuses, while the government and allied forces carry out indiscriminate attacks and direct attacks on civilians, using aerial and artillery bombing. Despite Syria being a State party to the Convention against Torture, the use of torture and other cruel and inhuman treatment appear to be deliberate State policy to instill fear and terrorize the civilian population. The use of torture and other inhuman treatment in detention is widespread against individuals suspected of having participated in demonstrations, journalists, web bloggers, defectors of security forces, women and children. Children are often arbitrarily detained or killed during demonstrations. There are extensive reports of sexual violence committed by public officers against women.
Another alarming issue is the systematic violation of international humanitarian law, with large-scale attacks by security forces against civilians across the country, numerous summary executions, including the killings of the elderly, women and children trying to flee attacks on towns and villages.
The longstanding, blanket impunity enjoyed by the security forces who commit such crimes is the main factor perpetuating the wholesale violations of international human rights and humanitarian law.