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UN Rights Chief Says Syria 'Worst Man-Made Disaster Since WWII'

Syrians walk amid debris during a sandstorm in the once rebel-held Kastal al-Harami neighborhood in the northern city of Aleppo on March 10.

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 Zeid Ra'ad al-Hussein said in a statement on March 14.

"Countless people have suffered arbitrary detention, torture, kidnap, and enforced disappearance in Syria," Zeid said.

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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.

"Ensuring accountability, establishing the truth, and providing reparations must happen if the Syrian people are ever to find reconciliation and peace," Zeid said.

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.

The 6-year-old war in Syria, which began with a government crackdown on pro-democracy protesters, has killed an estimated 300,000 people and displaced millions more.

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