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Increased numbers of 'foreign elements,' Jihadi groups operating in Syria

Published time: September 17, 2012 07:49
Edited time: September 17, 2012 13:08
A Syrian opposition fighter holds his AK-47 rifle at an undisclosed location in Syria's northern city of Aleppo.(AFP Photo / Aris Messinis)

A Syrian opposition fighter holds his AK-47 rifle at an undisclosed location in Syria's northern city of Aleppo.(AFP Photo / Aris Messinis)

UN investigators confirmed that “foreign elements,” including jihadists, are operating in Syria. The independent panel also alleged that both the Syrian government and the rebels committed war crimes during the country’s ongoing conflict.

­The independent investigations panel appointed by the UN’s Human Rights Council reported that some of the foreign elements joined rebel groups, while others acted independently. “Such elements tend to push anti-government fighters towards more radical positions,” the head of the panel warned.

The investigators also presented a list of Syrian army units and individuals who should stand trial on suspicions of war crimes.

The team’s head, Paulo Pinheiro, said that their investigations yielded a “formidable and extraordinary body of evidence,” and called for the Security Council to refer the cases to the International Criminal Court.

"The Commission considers it improper to publicly release the names due to the lower standard of proof employed by commissions of inquiry as compared to a court of law," added Pinhiero.

The international community is unable to reach a consensus on solving the increasingly militarized conflict in Syria, which has raged for the past 18 months. The West and several Gulf nations are pushing for the removal of President Bashar al-Assad, while Russia and China argue that he should only step down if the Syrian people vote him out.