10/17/2012, 00.00
SYRIA - VATICAN
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UN Commission: Hundreds of jihadists in Syria

Al Qaeda-linked groups receive weapons from Saudi Arabia and Qatar and risk "radicalizing" the conflict. For the UN, their presence is "dangerous" because "they are not fighting for democracy and freedom, but for their own agenda." Brahimi attempts a truce during the festival of Eid al-Adha. A Vatican delegation expected in Damascus, commissioned by the Pope to express the Church's closeness to the Syrian Christians and the general public. The only way forward is "a political solution".

Geneva (AsiaNews) - In Syria, there are hundreds of very dangerous "radical Islamists or jihadists", fighting against Assad for their own aims and not on the basis of democracy in the country. This was stated by Paulo Sergio Pinheiro, the head of a UN commission to check on human rights abuses in Syria. In the first report after a month of investigation he states that "there is a dramatic growth of sectarian tension" caused by foreign fighters. They - said Pinheiro - are not a big army, but "do not fight for democracy and freedom, but for their own agenda."

From some time now different sources have been warning the international community about the presence in Syria of hundreds of Islamic fighters close to al Qaeda, from different parts of the Islamic world: Iraq, Libya, Egypt, Afghanistan, Chechnya, Ukraine, Mali and Somalia.

The Damascus government has often accused "terrorist groups" present among the ranks of the Free Syrian Army, of being responsible for many bloody attacks. According to the government there are thousands.

Pinheiro noted that the presence of jihadists "may contribute to radicalization ... and this presence is particularly dangerous" in the conflict.

UN concerns come just as Lakhdar Brahimi, the UN envoy for the peace process, is attempting to launch a truce involving all parties to the conflict and their sponsors. The ceasefire should take place on the feast of Eid al-Adha, which is celebrated at the end of October. The fear is that the jihadi groups will not respond to the call and continue to fight.

The international community is also being cautious after the revelations of the New York Times, according to which many of the weapons that Saudi Arabia and Qatar send to the rebels, fall into the hands of jihadists.

Meanwhile, AsiaNews sources in Damascus, are awaiting more details on the announcement by the Secretary of State Cardinal. Tarcisio Bertone on sending a Vatican delegation to Syria. It would include the Cardinals Laurent Monsengwo Pasinya, Archbishop of Kinshasa; Jean Louis Tauran, president of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, Timothy Dolan, Archbishop of New York. The delegation will be led by Msgr. Dominique Mamberti, Secretary for Relations with States.

Speaking at the afternoon session of the Synod at the Vatican, Card. Bertone explained that the purpose of our visit is to express the "fraternal solidarity" of the Pope and the Church with all the Syrian people, "with a personal offer of the Synod Fathers, as well as the Holy See" as well as the spiritual closeness to "our Christian brothers and sisters" and "our encouragement to those engaged in the search for an agreement that respects the rights and duties of all, with special attention to the provisions of humanitarian law." "We can not - said the Cardinal - to be mere spectators of a tragedy like the one that is taking place in Syria."

For the Secretary of State the "solution to the crisis can only be political," and must take into account the "immense suffering of the people" and "the fate of displaced persons" and "the future of the nation."

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