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Crisis in Syria

U.N. finds Syrian forces intentionally bombed a civilian water source, constituting a war crime

On Tuesday, the United Nation's Independent International Commission of Inquiry on Syria issued a report finding that the Syrian air force intentionally bombed a civilian water source in December in what constitutes a war crime, Reuters reports. The Syrian government had claimed at the time that the spring was contaminated, although the U.N. found no evidence indicating such claims were true.

By destroying the spring outside Damascus, the air force cut off water for 5.5 million people. "While the presence of armed group fighters at [the] spring constituted a military target, the extensive damage inflicted to the spring had a devastating impact on more than five million civilians in both government- and opposition-controlled areas who were deprived of regular access to potable water for over one month," the commission said. "The attack amounts to the war crime of attacking objects indispensable for the survival of the civilian population, and further violated the principle of proportionality in attacks."

The commission has found multiple instances of war crimes since July 2016, including the Syrian air force's deliberate bombing of a humanitarian convoy in September. The Syrian civil war has been "characterized by a complete lack of adherence to the norms of international law," the United Nations has found.