The United Nations commission tasked with investigating the crisis in Syria announced Monday that there is an alarming presence of foreign forces in Syria.
Jihadist militants, alongside other foreign forces, have joined anti-government fighters as well as established their own groups that operate independently in Syria, according to the Independent International Commission of Inquiry (CoI) on Syria.
“Such elements tend to push anti-government fighters toward more radical positions,” said Paulo Pinheio, chair of the CoI, while speaking at the Human Rights Council in Geneva.
The announcement came one day after the commander of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards, Mohammad Ali Jafari, said that advisers from the elite military unit are giving nonmilitary assistance to the Syrian regime.
The presence of foreign forces in extremely volatile Syria is adding further to the escalation of the 18-monthlong armed conflict, which has seen an estimated 19,000 people killed.
Human rights abuses have increased significantly over the past weeks, according to the CoI.
Pinheio said, “Indiscriminate attacks on civilians in the form of air strikes and artillery shelling leveled against residential neighborhoods” by government forces are occurring daily.
According to Pinheio, the investigation by the commission, which primarily consists of interviews, has collected enough evidence to confirm that both the government and the anti-government troops have perpetrated war crimes.
War crimes believed to be committed by the rebel forces include “murder, extrajudicial execution and torture,” Pinheio said.
According to the commission, rebels have executed captured government forces and informers and have used prisoners to set off car bombs. In addition, children under 18 years old are fighting alongside the rebels.
The armed conflict and subsequent international sanctions on the Syrian authorities have left a total of 2.5 million people in need of humanitarian assistance, according to the United Nations, and the conflicts have left an estimated 1.2 million people displaced, half of which are children.
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