GENEVA, Sept. 17 (Xinhua) -- The United Nations Independent International Commission of Inquiry (CoI) on Syria confirmed on Monday "the increasing presence of foreign elements, including jihadist militants" in Syria.
Paulo Pinheiro, chair of the CoI, told the ongoing 21st session of the UN Human Rights Council (HRC) that some of the foreign militants are joining the anti-government forces while others are establishing their own groups and operate independently.
"Such elements tend to push anti-government fighters towards more radical positions," he said.
Pinheiro did an oral update to the HRC after the commission released its latest report on Aug. 15.
The commission confirmed the conclusion of the report that Syrian government forces and anti-government groups were both responsible for war crimes.
The commission found reasonable grounds to believe that Syrian government forces and the Shabbiha (pro-government militia) committed war crimes, gross violations of human rights and crimes against humanity, Pinheiro said.
Government forces and Shabbiha members were also held responsible for the killings in Houla on May 25, the commission said.
Pinheiro said war crimes, including murder, extrajudicial execution and torture, were perpetrated by anti-government armed groups.
He also said sectarian tensions have increased dramatically in Syria, particularly in Latakia and Idlib governorates.
The CoI was established in September 2011 by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (UNHRC) to investigate all alleged violations of international human rights law since March 2011 in Syria, and was requested to probe into the Houla killings in a special session of the UNHRC on June 1.