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Syria crisis as volatile as Somalia, warns U.N. peace envoy Brahimi

Published: Updated:

U.N. and Arab League peace envoy on Syria Lakhdar Brahimi warned on Monday that the situation in Syria resembles that of Somalia, pointing at a lingering Syrian crisis which is “worrying the world.”

“The situation in Syria resembles Somalia (and is even worse) than what the latter witnessed in the past years,” Brahimi said following his meeting with EU foreign ministers at Brussels.

“They agree with us that (Syria’s crisis) is one of the most dangerous crises (worrying) the entire world today. I came here to call on them to use their capabilities to help reach a peaceful solution,” he told reporters.

He added that Syria’s crisis can only be resolved through “a political, peaceful and consensual solution.”

An uprising in Syria erupted two years ago with largely peaceful protests but escalated into a civil war pitting mainly Sunni Muslim rebels against President Bashar al-Assad, whose Alawite faith is an offshoot of Shi’ite Islam.

The Syrian government has stepped up indiscriminate, heavy bombardments of cities while rebels are executing prisoners condemned in their own make shift courts without due process, U.N. investigators said on Monday.

The independent investigators said they were looking into 20 massacres committed by one or the other side and hundreds of “unlawful killings”, cases of torture and arbitrary arrests since September in the two-year-old conflict.

“Indiscriminate and widespread shelling, the regular bombardment of cities, mass killing and the deliberate firing on civilian targets have come to characterize the daily lives of civilians in Syria,” Paulo Pinheiro, chairman of the commission of inquiry on Syria, told the U.N. Human Rights Council.

The uprising in Syria erupted in March 2011 with largely peaceful protests but escalated into a civil war pitting mainly Sunni Muslim rebels against President Bashar al-Assad, whose minority Alawite faith is an offshoot of Shi’ite Islam.

“In a disturbing and dangerous trend, mass killings allegedly perpetrated by Popular Committees have at times taken on sectarian overtones,” the 10-page U.N. report said. “Some appear to have been trained and armed by the government.”

Pro-Assad Popular Committee militiamen have been documented as operating across Syria, “where at times they are alleged to be participating in house-to-house searches, identity checks, mass arrests, looting and acting as informants”, it said.

Karen Koning AbuZayd, an American commissioner, said the committees were formed initially to defend their neighborhoods. ”In a way, this is a move by the government to supplement its own manpower as it begins to lose some of the (regular military)manpower that it used to have,” she told a news conference.

Syrian Ambassador Faysal Khabbaz Hamoui dismissed the reports based on “partial information from untrustworthy sources” and accused Qatar and Turkey of “supporting terrorism” in Syria.

“There is a conspiracy against Syria. Qatar has financed and armed tens of thousands of mercenaries from 30 countries. Turkey has provided the military bases and sent them into Syria on their jihad,” he told the Geneva forum.