Violence in the ongoing civil war in South Sudan, in which government forces have viciously targeted civilians in the struggle between two national leaders, has been so severe of late that the United Nations has once again gotten involved in the roiling regional conflict.

Spurred by findings from a panel of experts on the area, the U.N. Security Council has called for both sides to sign a peace treaty, as Reuters reported Tuesday:

UN aid chief Stephen O’Brien told the Security Council on Tuesday that the scope and level of cruelty in the attacks against civilians “suggests a depth of antipathy that goes beyond political differences”.

Referring to examples of the recent violence in Unity State, Mr O’Brien said: “A witness from Rubkona County has said that she saw government forces gang-raping a breast-feeding mother after tossing her baby aside.”

South Sudan was plunged into a civil war in December 2013 when a political crisis sparked fighting between forces loyal to president Salva Kiir and rebels allied with his former deputy Riek Machar.

The conflict has reopened ethnic fault lines that pit Mr Kiir’s Dinka people against Mr Machar’s ethnic Nuer people.

Mr Kiir is expected to sign a peace deal on Wednesday to end the conflict. Mr Machar signed the deal last week.

Whether a signed document created by an international governing body does anything to help the situation on the ground in South Sudan remains to be seen.

–Posted by Kasia Anderson

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