UN: Foreign fighters fueling sectarian violence in Syria

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Human Rights Council

The UN Human Rights Office (OHCHR) says the increasing number of foreign fighters entering Syria to support government and rebel forces is fuelling sectarian violence and warns their involvement in the conflict may destabilize the entire region.

UN Human rights chief Navi Pillay says the conflict in Syria was also being prolonged by states and other outside forces which were providing weapons and ammunition to the warring parties.

Addressing the UN Human Rights Council during a special session on the situation of human rights in Syria, Ms Pillay called on the international community to be united in ending the Syrian conflict, adding that the solution must be political and not military.

"We must put our differences aside, and States with influence should use it to apply strong pressure to halt all further use of heavy weapons and aerial bombardment of civilian areas. States with influence must make it clear they are unified in not tolerating any further killings, destruction or sectarian incitement, by anti- or pro-Government elements. This Council should send a clear message to all parties to the conflict, and the external actors wittingly and unwittingly fuelling it: the conflict must cease, with an immediate cease-fire as a confidence-building measure leading up to the Geneva conference; the flow of arms must stop; and the process of national dialogue must begin now." 

The council is expected to adopt a resolution condemning violence perpetrated by government and rebel forces.

The resolution singles out the intervention of foreign combatants fighting on behalf of the Syrian regime in Al Qusayr, and expresses concern that their involvement poses a serious threat to regional stability.

Patrick Maigua, United Nations Radio, Geneva

Duration 1.46

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