UN rights body condemns Syrian use of foreign fighters in Qusayr

UN rights body condemns Syrian use of foreign fighters in Qusayr

GENEVA - Agence France-Presse
UN rights body condemns Syrian use of foreign fighters in Qusayr

A Syrian army tank fires during a battle against opposition fighters in the city of Qusayr, in Syria's central Homs province, on May 23. AFP photo

The UN's top rights body on May 29 voted to condemn the Syrian regime's use of foreign fighters in the besieged town of Qusayr and ordered an urgent probe into the killings in the town.

Thirty-six of the UN Human Rights Council's 47 member states voted in favour of the resolution that implicitly refers to the involvement of fighters from Lebanon's militant group Hezbollah in the fierce battle for the strategic town, where hundreds of civilians have reportedly been killed.

Eight countries abstained, two refrained from voting and only Venezuela cast its vote against the resolution.

The text, which was put forward by the United States, Turkey and Qatar and which is non-binding, "condemns the intervention of foreign combatants fighting on behalf of the Syrian regime in Al Qusayr." It goes on to express "deep concern" that the involvement of the fighters could "further exacerbate the deteriorating human rights and humanitarian situation".

The resolution also stressed "the need to ensure accountability for those responsible for the massacre in Al Qusayr." Lebanese Shiite militant group Hezbollah sent almost 1,700 fighters to Qusayr more than a week ago to support the regime's assault on the rebel stronghold.

Control of Qusayr is essential for the rebels as it is their principal transit point for weapons and fighters from Lebanon.

The resolution means the UN commission of inquiry on Syria tasked since 2011 with probing rights abuses across the country will be ordered to investigate the killings in the town.

The investigators, who include legendary former war crimes prosecutor Carla del Ponte, will however probably not be able to visit the site, as it has so far been barred by the regime from entering the country.