U.N. rights body considers probe of Qusayr killings

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The U.N.’s top rights body should order a probe into the assault on the besieged Syrian town of Qusayr by the regime and its allies, including foreign fighters, says a draft resolution being debated Wednesday.

Condemning “the intervention of foreign combatants fighting on behalf of the Syrian regime in Al-Qusayr,” the draft resolution put forward by the United States, Turkey and Qatar was revised Wednesday to also include a call for a U.N. probe of the killings there.

The text, being debated before the U.N.’s Human Rights Council in Geneva during an urgent debate on the situation in the war-torn country, called for the U.N.’s “Commission of Inquiry (on Syria) to urgently conduct a comprehensive, independent and unfettered special inquiry into the events in Al Qusayr.”

It also called for a “full report of the findings” to be presented during the next session of the human rights council in September.

If passed, the resolution would compel the council to order the Commission of Inquiry to carry out a probe. But the commission would likely not be able to go into Syria as it has so far been refused access to the country.

The resolution, first presented Tuesday, was revised at the last minute following criticism from a number of countries that it was unbalanced, since it only took issue with violence and rights abuses committed by the Syrian regime and its allies.

The final text, expected to be adopted by the council Wednesday afternoon, “condemns all violence in the Syrian Arab Republic, irrespective of where it comes from.”

U.S. ambassador to the council Eileen Chamberlain Donahoe told reporters shortly before the debate began that her country was “really concerned about the dramatic increase in the role of Hezbollah inside Syria.”

The powerful Lebanese Shiite movement’s fighters are spearheading the government assault on Qusayr, which has now reclaimed 80 percent of the central town.

“We want to underscore that not only is this not helpful in terms of destabilizing Syria, but it also has this very serious risk of destabilizing Lebanon and destabilizing the region as a whole,” she said.

U.N. rights chief Navi Pillay told the council that “the increasing number of foreign fighters crossing Syria’s borders to support one side or the other is further fuelling the sectarian violence, and the situation is beginning to show worrying signs of destabilizing the region as a whole.”

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