Syrian army tanks move into city
In this photo, Syrian army tanks are seen moving into the Jabal Al-Zawya area of Idlib, Syria. Reuters

Despite an international outcry against violence used by the Syrian forces, President Assad has refused to step down. However a new UN report could now push for the International Criminal Court to react and start an investigation.

The Syrian forces have been accused of launching a violent and brutal crackdown on mainly peaceful demonstrators for several months, but it took months for international leaders to unequivocally call for the president to step down.

While the leaders were quicker to react after Gadhafi was accused of killing his own civilians, the report from the UN provides a shocking account of the level of violence and oppression imposed on civilians by the Assad forces.

The documents say the regime's troops have fired on peaceful protesters across the country, often at short range and without warning, killing at least 1,900 civilians, which could potentially amount to crimes against humanity.

"At the time of writing, the mission was in receipt of over 1,900 names and details of persons killed in Syria since mid-March 2011; all are said to be civilians. "

"The mission gathered corroborative eyewitness statements with respect to numerous summary executions, including 353 named victims," the reports read.

Commenting on the disproportionate use of force, the document also insists on the peaceful character of the protests which it opposes to the brutality of the regime.

"Reports from a wide variety of sources assert that the demonstrations were mostly peaceful. Civilians of all ages participated in protests and often carried olive branches or showed their bare chests to indicate they had no weapons. Government-controlled media channels reported these events inaccurately, in most cases attributing disturbances to 'terrorist' elements. The majority of killings reported were due to live ammunition, coming from security forces, the military and Shabbiha elements, using Kalashnikovs and other guns. Reports from witnesses indicate that there was a widespread modus operandi to kill civilians by using a) forces on the ground, b) snipers on rooftops and c) air power," the reports notes.

Shocking reports also includes proves that the security fired at protesters from a short range: "most of the victims' bullet wounds were located in the head, chest and general upper body area" and denounces "reports that officers were specially trained to be used against civilian demonstrations."

According to the investigations witnesses also reported widespread attempts to cover up killings by the security forces, with the use of mass graves being cited by some of the witnesses.

More horrific accounts followed with the security forces being accused of storing murdered victims in makeshift refrigerators during the sieges, or killing injured victims by putting them alive in refrigerators in hospital morgues.

Torture is also a recurrent feature of the regime tactics, according to the UN document, with children also being targeted, while sexual assault or rape on women or girls are also discussed.

Clearly, the UN document illustrates the extent of the brutality of the regime and its forces in Syria, where civilians have repeatedly been persecuted, tortured and targeted. While it is not sure an arrest warrant from the International Criminal Court would have an impact on Assad, the credibility of the UN court risk being badly hit if no further steps are taken.