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Opposition urges UN to refer Syria file to ICC

(AFP) / 22 January 2012

CAIRO - The Syrian National Council, the country’s largest opposition group, called on Sunday for the Syria file to be transferred to the UN Security Council for referral to the International Criminal Court.

The SNC “asks the Arab League to transfer the Syria file to the Security Council as quickly as possible,” said a statement the group adopted at a meeting in Cairo, which coincided with a gathering of Arab foreign ministers to mull the future of their much-criticised Syria observer mission.

The Security Council should “refer the Syria file to the International Criminal Court and take firm decisions to protect the Syrian people,” it added.

The SNC also called for an “air embargo” on Syria and the creation of “security zones to allow humanitarian aid to reach the affected Syrian towns.”

It demanded further sanctions “on all Syrian officials implicated in the crimes against humanity in Syria, starting with the Syrian president,” Bashar al-Assad.

The United Nations says that at least 5,400 people have been killed in the Syrian government crackdown on dissent since last March, when protests first erupted against Assad’s regime.

Activists and rights groups say more than 500 people have died since Arab League observers were deployed in Syria in late December to oversee an Arab peace plan.

The crimes committed in Syria should be “considered crimes against humanity, and all those implicated in those crimes should be prosecuted under international law,” the SNC statement said.

It called on every member of the United Nations “to halt all military and security cooperation with the Syrian regime,” urging China and Russia in particular to withdraw their support for the Damascus government.

Arab League foreign ministers meeting in Cairo on Sunday were expected to agree to extend the bloc’s observer mission, which was deployed in late December and has been widely criticised for its failure to stem the bloodshed.

But Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal said Riyadh was withdrawing from the mission because the Syrian government had “not respected any of the clauses” in the Arab plan aimed at ending the crisis.

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