Syria decries war crimes petition

AFP , Saturday 19 Jan 2013

Syrian FM denounces petition calling for war crimes case against Damascus, accuses signatories of funding 'terrorists' and 'hindering the Syrian dialogue'

Syrian FM
Walid Moallem, foreign minister of Syria, addresses the 67th session of the United Nations General Assembly at U.N. headquarters on Oct. 1, 2012 (Photo: AP)

Syria's foreign ministry on Saturday decried a petition by 58 countries calling for a war crimes case against Damascus, in a letter to the president of the United Nations Security Council.

"The Syrian government regrets the persistence of these countries in following the wrong approach and refusing to recognise the duty of the Syrian state to protect its people from terrorism imposed from abroad," it said.

The ministry accused some signatories to the petition of funding, training and harbouring "terrorists," a blanket term used to describe opposition forces trying to topple the regime of President Bashar al-Assad.

It said the initiative was proof of the "deceit and double standards" of the signatories in dealing with the Syrian conflict, in which the United Nations says that more than 60,000 people have been killed since March 2011.

"At the same time that they express their concern about the Syrian people and humanitarian laws, these countries ignore the political, media, logistical and military support that armed gangs are receiving."

Such countries, it said, are "hindering the Syrian national dialogue for a peaceful settlement of the crisis as proposed by President Bashar al-Assad on January 6."

UN rights chief Navi Pillay on Friday renewed a demand that the divided Security Council order an International Criminal Court war crimes investigation in Syria.

Syria is not an ICC member, and the Security Council is the only body which can refer the conflict to the court.

Russia and China have already used their veto power as permanent members of the Security Council to block three resolutions which would have threatened sanctions against Assad.

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