ICC urged to charge Syria over new claim of war crimes

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The Independent Online

Amnesty International has said that the Syrian regime may have committed war crimes during an army operation in which homes were shelled, fleeing villagers sniped and arrested civilians tortured and killed.

In a 22-page report, Amnesty accused the Baathist regime of committing crimes against humanity during its assault on the town of Talkalakh, close to the Lebanese border, in May. It urged the United Nations Security Council to refer Syria to the International Criminal Court.

The operation in Talkalakh began after residents took to the streets to demand the removal of President Bashar al-Assad. At least nine people died in custody, Amnesty said.

Rime Allaf, a Syria expert from the Chatham House think-tank, said she "strongly doubted" the report would affect the Baathist regime's behaviour. "I think they will continue to brush aside such criticism," she added.

A crackdown on protesters in the central city of Hama continued yesterday. Rights groups say more than 20 civilians have been killed there since Tuesday.

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