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UN rights council condemns recent Syria attacks, foreign fighters

The UN Human Rights Council [official website] on Wednesday adopted a resolution condemning [UN News Centre report] the most recent Syrian attacks in Al-Qusayr and calling for an end to the violence. In a speech on Wednesday, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay [official profile] noted [statement] that the recent fighting in Al-Qusayr has left the town with shortages of food, water and medical supplies while forcing hundreds to flee from their homes. Intense shelling and increased clashes between government and rebel groups, Pillay claims, continue to endanger the lives of civilians in Al-Qusayr. The humanitarian situation continues to deteriorate with civilian death tolls rising daily. Pillay further called for the anti-government forces to more clearly distinguish themselves from civilians and urged both sides to do more to allow civilians to flee the city. In addition, Pillay expressed her concern for the growing number of international fighters that are crossing the Syrian border to fight for either side. There is evidence to suggest that an influx of foreign fighters has incited increased violence, both in quantity and severity of violence. This fact, Pillay explained, is a sign that the fighting is long from over and even when the broader fighting ends, these groups may continue to incite violence along religious or ethnic lines. To counter this, Pillay urged the international community to come together in Geneva for a conference surrounding these issues.

The Syrian Civil War [JURIST backgrounder] has been ongoing since 2011 when opposition groups first began protesting the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad [BBC profile]. Earlier this week Pillay criticized [JURIST report] the human rights rights violations going on in Syria. Earlier this month Pillay called for international action [JURIST report] after a series of massacres was carried out against Syrian civilians. Last month Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website] condemned the Syrian Air Force for deliberately targeting civilians [JURIST report] in air strikes in rebel-controlled areas. In March HRW accused Syria's military [JURIST report] of using widely-banned cluster bombs against civilians. In February Pillay reported that the death toll after two years [JURIST report] of armed conflict approached 70,000.

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