The experts of the UN Independent International Commission of Inquiry (CoI) on the situation in Syria confirmed on Monday, 17 September 2012 in Geneva, the presence of foreign armed groups who are attempting to topple the Syrian government.

Before the Council of Human Rights, CoI chair Paulo Pinheiro said that Islamic extremists in Syria are either fighting alongside armed anti-government groups or operating on their own. He also characterized the presence of these elements in Syria as "growing and disturbing" and confirmed that crimes have been committed by anti-government forces.

"There is enough evidence to suggest that war crimes, including murder, extrajudicial execution and torture, were perpetrated by anti-government armed groups," said the head of the UN investigators on the situation in Syria. He also denounced the fact that the anti-regime armed groups use children and adolescents under 18 years.

Paulo Pinheiro pointed out that armed groups seeking to overthrow the Syrian government don’t wear real uniforms or insignia to distinguish them from the civilian population.

The head of the UN Independent International Commission of Inquiry on Syria also criticized the government for carrying out indiscriminate attacks such as air strikes and artillery shelling of residential areas.

In his speech before the Council of Human Rights, Paulo Pinheiro repudiated the application of sanctions against Syria sanctions, which go against the most basic human rights of the Syrian people and stressed the need to achieve a political solution to the Syrian crisis instead of relying on a military solution.