Growing Jihadi Presence in Syria ‘Alarming,’ U.N. Investigator Says
The growing presence of Islamic fundamentalist fighters is among the “most alarming” trends in Syria’s civil war, a United Nations investigator said Monday.
“Some of them can be classified as jihadis,” said Paulo Pinheiro, who chairs an independent international committee charged with investigating the situation in Syria. “Sometimes they fight together with some armed groups of the opposition. Other times they go by themselves. They have their own agenda.”
Hours after presenting a new report to the U.N. Human Rights Council in Geneva, Switzerland, Pinheiro told CNN that the fundamentalist fighters were “one of the most alarming elements in the present stage of the civil war in Syria.”
The commission also believes both sides of the conflict have committed war crimes, according to the report Pinheiro presented Monday.
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“The commission found reasonable grounds to believe that government forces and the (Shabiha) had committed the crimes against humanity of murder and of torture, war crimes and gross violations of international human rights law and international humanitarian law, including unlawful killing, torture, arbitrary arrest and detention, sexual violence, indiscriminate attack, pillaging and destruction of property,” a summary of the report states. Shabiha are pro-government militia.
In addition, “The commission found reasonable grounds to believe that war crimes, including murder, extrajudicial execution and torture, had been perpetrated by organized anti-government armed groups.”