ISIL war crimes may trigger regional sectarian war: UN

ISIL war crimes may trigger regional sectarian war: UN
Wed Jun 18, 2014 09:15:03

The Middle East appears on the brink of wider sectarian war engulfing Iraq and Syria with radical terrorists wantonly kidnapping, torturing and killing civilians, UN human rights investigators says.

Militants of the so-called Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) have routed Baghdad’s army and seized the north of Iraq in the past week, linking it with a major swathe of territory previously taken in eastern Syria during the civil war there.

“We predicted a long time ago the dangers of spillover both ways, which is now becoming a regional spillover,” said Vitit Muntarbhorn, an international law expert who took part in the inquiry. “We are possibly on the cusp of a regional war and that is something we’re very concerned about.”

UN human rights chief Navi Pillay said Monday that ISIL terrorists in northern Iraq had almost certainly committed war crimes by executing hundreds of non-combatant men over the past five days.

A report presented Tuesday to the UN Human Rights Council said foreign militants and funds had poured into Syria, where terrorist factions including ISIL were wantonly abusing civilians in zones they controlled.

“A regional war in the Middle East draws ever closer. Events in neighboring Iraq will have violent repercussions for Syria,” the report said.

“Growing numbers of radical fighters are targeting not only Sunni communities under their control but also minority communities including the Shias, Alawites, Christians, Armenians, Druze and Kurds,” it said of Syria.

The report said ISIL kidnapped nearly 200 Kurdish civilians in an attack in the city of Aleppo in May.

Muntarbhorn said ISIL was fighting other militant groups in Syria more than it was fighting the government.

“ISIL has shown itself willing to fan the flames of sectarianism, both in Iraq and in Syria. Any strengthening of their position gives rise to great concern,” the report said.

At least 160,000 people have been killed in Syria’s conflict that began in 2011.

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