"Had Geneva truly been an attempt to resolve the Syrian stalemate, influential nations would have insisted on the regime's adherence to the basic recommendations of the Geneva I talks in 2012, including the provision of humanitarian aid, the release of prisoners of conscience, and the cessation of Assad's relentless air strikes on civilians," writes Rime Allaf in the Guardian.
"So what does all this very preliminary evidence [data on torture practices] from Syria mean? First, that torture as a use of force is unlikely to go away, even as the regime consolidates its strength (including, potentially, in Islamist-held areas in the Kurdish north as opposition infighting continues). Second, torture is generally less prevalent in contested rural areas and is most common in urban areas under regime control," writes Lionel Beehner in the Washington Post.
"Sunni Islamists, particularly Salafis, have used six main terms to describe those that support, are on the side of, or are fighting with the Assad regime: Nusayri, rafidha, majus, Safawi, Hizb al-Lat, and Hizb al-Shaytan. Their Shiite Islamist foes have also adopted their own titles for their Sunni opponents, some of the main terms include: Nasabi, Takfiri, Ummayad, and Wahhabi. For both sides, these terms serve to paint their enemies as nothing more than infidels bent on destroying Islam. Consequently, there can only be one punishment: Death," writes Aaron Zelin and Phillip Smyth in Foreign Policy.
Ukraine's president, Viktor Yanukovich, fell ill as he is coming under increasing pressure to offer concessions to the opposition, whose two-month protest movement is spreading across the country. Prior to the sick leave announcement, protestors rejected an offer of amnesty if they vacate local government buildings (FT).