A rebel scouts the positions of Syrian government forces in the northern Syrian city of Aleppo on March 23, 2013
A rebel scouts the positions of Syrian government forces at Saif al-Dawla district in the northern Syrian city of Aleppo on March 23, 2013. President Bashar al-Assad's regime Saturday said it "categorically" rejected a UN Human Rights Council decision to prolong an enquiry on strife-torn Syria, calling the group's work "biased and imbalanced." © Bulent Kilic - AFP
A rebel scouts the positions of Syrian government forces in the northern Syrian city of Aleppo on March 23, 2013
AFP
Last updated: March 23, 2013

Damascus rejects UN probe into rights abuses

President Bashar al-Assad's regime Saturday said it "categorically" rejected a UN Human Rights Council decision to prolong an enquiry on strife-torn Syria, calling the group's work "biased and imbalanced."

"Syria categorically rejects this decision," said an unnamed official source cited by state news agency SANA a day after the UN Human Rights Council passed a resolution prolonging the commission of enquiry's work.

The resolution failed to take into account "the unethical role played by states that sponsor terrorism in Syria, which fund, train, arm and send terrorists and mercenaries" into the country, the official said.

The official also said the resolution reflects "a policy of double standards practised by some countries that claim to defend human rights."

Damascus also strongly denounced the resolution's "selective phrasing," said SANA.

It called the decision "political cover given for crimes committed by armed terrorist groups" while blaming the country's violence on the regime.

Adopted with 41 votes in favour, one against and five countries abstaining, the resolution said the commission should continue "to investigate all alleged violations of international human rights law."

Unable to enter Syria, the commission has interviewed more than 1,500 refugees and exiles to compile its reports, in which it charges that both government troops and opposition forces have carried out war crimes.

The resolution strongly condemned abuses by both sides, but noted that those "committed by anti-government armed groups did not reach the intensity and scale of the violations committed by the government forces and its affiliated militia."

The United Nations estimates that more than 70,000 people have been killed in the Syrian conflict that began with peaceful protests in mid-March 2011 but quickly became an armed insurgency after a harsh regime crackdown on dissent.

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