UN: Syrian civil war increasingly sectarian

A U.N. human rights report on Syria says the country

A Lebanese anti-Syrian regime gunman looks at a poster shows a portrait of Malek Haj Deeb, 20, left, with his two friends who were three of several of the young Lebanese men who were killed in neighboring Syria's civil war last week, in the poor neighborhood of Mankoubeen, in the northern port city of Tripoli, Lebanon, Wednesday Dec. 5, 2012. The families of several of the young Lebanese men who were killed in Syria last week say their sons were more interested in fashion and swimming holidays than fighting in a foreign war. But when the men's corpses turned up in Syria, the government in Damascus said they were part of the stream of foreign jihadists pouring into the country to fight alongside rebels. (AP Photo/Hussein Malla)

BRUSSELS (AP) — A U.N. human rights report on Syria says the country's civil war is increasingly turning into a sectarian conflict pitting majority Sunni rebels against government forces supported by the country's religious and ethnic minorities.

Sergio Pinheiro, who heads an independent commission investigating abuses, said Thursday the panel was "extremely worried by the presence of foreign fighters ... who are not fighting for human rights and democracy" on the rebel side.

He said the bulk of the victims of the nearly two-year war were civilians, and blamed both sides for abuses including torture and illegal executions.

Pinheiro noted that anti-government rebels were hiding in urban areas where they were "failing to distinguish themselves" from the civilian population, triggering strikes by government artillery and the air force.

Associated Press
Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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