Presence of armed radical Islamist groups in Syria is ‘alarming', warns UN official

Tuesday, September 18, 2012
Paulo Pinheiro while addressing press conference in Geneva
[PHOTO: UNifeed] 
Geneva: The head of the UN's Commission of Inquiry on Syria labelled as "alarming" the presence in Syria of armed radical Islamist groups whose exact identity and nationality are not known.

As per the Commission's Report presented to the Human Rights Council in Geneva on 17 September it has been confirmed that -the presence of "foreign elements, including Jihadist militants" some of which are joining the opposition forces, while others are operating independently. 

Paulo Pinheiro, Chair of the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic told journalists at a press conference after submitting his report, the radical Islamists "are not fighting for the same objective as the armed groups."  "They have their own agenda," he said.

 Although little is known about these radical groups, their presence in Syria is confirmed, the Commission Chair said, by the type of explosions that have been registered.

Addressing claims by the representative of the Syria Arab Republic in the Council earlier, that the Report is biased, Pinheiro said, "we are not just interviewing militants or freedom fighters or combatants or FSA (Free Syrian Army)", he said. 

"We are interviewing common people that are leaving the country because of the bombardments, because of the shelling, because of the difficult conditions of life they are having there".  

More than 1100 interviews have been carried out, he added, many with refugees in neighbouring countries but he added that, without access inside Syria, it is impossible for his team to carry out face-to-face interviews inside the country. -UNifeed
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