Middle East

UN panel: Syria evacuees likely to be caught in new fighting

In this photo released by the Syrian official news agency SANA, Syrian government forces welcome a bus carry Syrian citizens and pro-government fighters who evacuated from the two pro-government villages of Foua and Kfarya, upon their arrival at a cross point between the rebels and the Syrian government forces on the outskirts of Aleppo city, Syria, Friday, April, 21, 2017. Syrian state TV says the troubled population transfers involving thousands of Syrians have resumed after stalling for days following a massive explosion that killed dozens. (SANA via AP)

In this photo released by the Syrian official news agency SANA, Syrian government forces welcome a bus carry Syrian citizens and pro-government fighters who evacuated from the two pro-government villages of Foua and Kfarya, upon their arrival at a cross point between the rebels and the Syrian government forces on the outskirts of Aleppo city, Syria, Friday, April, 21, 2017. Syrian state TV says the troubled population transfers involving thousands of Syrians have resumed after stalling for days following a massive explosion that killed dozens. (SANA via AP)  (The Associated Press)

The head of a U.N. investigative panel on Syria says thousands of evacuees sent to rebel-held Idlib and government-controlled western Aleppo province are likely to be caught in escalating fighting from increasingly radicalized extremist groups.

The chairman of the Independent International Commission of Inquiry told reporters Friday that the siege of Aleppo resulted in the further radicalization of some groups.

Paulo Sergio Pinheiro singles out the militant group Hay'at Tahrir al Sham. According to reports, it formed in late January by uniting the al-Qaida affiliate in Syria, the Fatah al-Sham Front, formerly known as the Nusra Front, with four other groups.

Pinheiro says the extremists' presence in Idlib and western Aleppo "raise serious concerns for escalation of hostilities in those areas which puts at risk the evacuees now living there."