An independent UN panel confirmed on Monday that an increasing number of foreign elements including what it calls “jihadists” are now operating in Syria.
In its first report to say that outside terrorists have joined the fight in Syria, the investigative panel appointed by the Human Rights Council says some of these forces are joining armed anti-government groups while others are operating on their own.
"Such elements tend to push anti-government fighters towards more radical positions." the head of the panel, Brazilian diplomat and professor Paulo Sergio Pinheiro, told diplomats.
He referred to the foreigners as terrorists, though the word did not appear in the written report.
The panel accused government forces along with armed groups of war crimes including murder, extrajudicial execution and torture.
Pinheiro said that the human rights situation has "deteriorated to such a degree that it is difficult to describe justly in such a few words. Gross violations of human rights have grown in number, in pace and in scale."
He said the frequency of these "egregious violations" were so enormous that his panel could no longer investigate them all.
"Civilians, many of them children, are bearing the brunt of the spiraling violence," he said.
For his part, the Syrian U.N. Ambassador Faysal Khabbaz Hamoui contested the report's overall accuracy and objectivity. But he appeared to agree with Pinheiro on the presence of outside elements, telling the council that "many international parties are working on increasing the crisis in Syria."