GENEVA - The Syrian government is reportedly using local militias known as Popular Committees to commit mass killings which are at times sectarian in nature, UN human rights investigators said on Monday.
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The uprising in Syria erupted two years ago with largely peaceful protests but escalated into a civil war pitting mainly Sunni Muslim rebels against President Bashar Assad, whose Alawite faith is an offshoot of Shi'ite Islam.
"In a disturbing and dangerous trend, mass killings allegedly perpetrated by Popular Committees have at times taken on sectarian overtones," the UN commission of inquiry on Syria, led by Brazilian Paulo Pinheiro, said in its latest report to the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva.
"Some appear to have been trained and armed by the government," they said.