Tense debate at UN ends in extension of Syria probe

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The conflict continues to have a devastating impact on Syrian civilians, the Human Rights Council heard. Photo: WFP/Abeer Etefa (file)

A high-level UN probe into human rights violations in Syria received a 12-month extension on Friday after overcoming calls of political bias by some member states.

Presenting its proposal at the Human Rights Council in Geneva, the United Kingdom said an additional year of investigation was needed as the conflict showed no sign of letting up.

Ahead of the vote, the council heard objections from Syria and Russia, which said the probe placed too much emphasis on the Syrian government's alleged violations.

Daniel Johnson has more.

 UK ambassador Karen Pierce told the UN council that the four-year-old Syrian conflict continued to have a "devastating effect" on civilians.

"Men women and children are denied their human rights day after day after day. This council cannot remain silent. We are gravely concerned about indiscriminate attacks and the deliberate targeting of protected civilians which deliberately contravenes international law."

Supported by 10 other member nations, the UK draft resolution was critical of the Syrian government's lack of cooperation with the UN Commission of Inquiry into human rights abuses by President Bashar Al Assad's forces.

These include the alleged use of chlorine barrel bombs on civilians.

The UK representative called all parties involved in the conflict to "stop the bloodshed", naming ISIS extremists and foreign fighters.

In response, Russia said the "vast majority of crimes" in Syria were carried out by terrorists who were trying to "make the Middle East into a place where terror and violence reign".

The Syrian delegation also rejected the resolution saying it ignored the humanitarian impact of terrorism on its soil.

The resolution was carried by 29 votes to six with 12 abstentions.

Daniel Johnson, United Nations

Duration: 1'15"


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