AN INCREASING number of foreign “jihadists” are operating in Syria, an independent United Nations panel has confirmed.
The investigative panel appointed by the UN’s Human Rights Council said yesterday that outside “terrorists” have joined the country’s civil war, with some of these forces joining armed anti-government groups while others are operating on their own.
“Such elements tend to push anti-government fighters towards more radical positions,” said the head of the panel, Brazilian diplomat, Professor Paulo Sergio Pinheiro. He referred to the foreigners as “terrorists”, though the word did not appear in the written report.
...Prof Pinheiro said the human rights situation has “deteriorated to such a degree that it is difficult to describe justly in such a few words. Gross violations of human rights have grown in number, in pace and in scale.”
He said the frequency of these “egregious violations” were so enormous that his panel could no longer investigate them all.
“Civilians, many of them children, are bearing the brunt of the spiralling violence,” he said.
Food, water and medical supplies have run short in areas subjected to Syrian government air strikes, shelling and siege, Prof Pinheiro said, adding that investigators had received “numerous accounts … of civilians barely managing to survive”.
He also reported an “increasing and alarming presence” of Islamist militants in Syria, some joining the rebels and others operating independently. They tended to radicalise the rebels, who have also committed war crimes, the Brazilian expert said.
...Russian diplomat Maria Khodynskaya-Golenishcheva said: “There are jihadist mercenaries fighting on the opposition side. Those who in the view of some states are bringing democracy to the region are in actual fact carrying out mass murder.”