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Foreigners flood into Syria to join battle to overthrow Assad

London Independent [1]
September 18, 2012

Rebels in Syria are becoming increasingly radicalised as more and more foreign fighters join the battle to overthrow President Bashar al-Assad’s regime, United Nations human rights investigators have warned.

The UN team, expressing concern at the “increasing and alarming presence” of Islamist militants in Syria, said the numbers of human rights abuses committed by both sides had risen dramatically in recent weeks.

The independent panel of experts, commissioned by the UN Human Rights Council, said it had drawn up a secret new list of Syrians and military units suspected of committing war crimes, and called for the UN Security Council to refer the country to the International Criminal Court (ICC).

“Gross violations of human rights have grown in number, in pace and in scale,” Paulo Sergio Pinheiro, the Brazilian diplomat leading the investigators, told the Human Rights Council in Geneva. “Civilians, many of them children, are bearing the brunt of the spiralling violence.” His stark warning comes at a time of heightened violence in Syria’s 18-month-long civil war, as the international community remains divided about how, if at all, to intervene. Pro-opposition activist groups say more than 5,000 people were killed in August – the highest monthly total yet. The same groups claim that about 27,000 people have been killed since the start of the conflict, while the UN puts the number at closer to 20,000.

Full story here.