News / Middle East

International Effort Aims to Refer Syria to ICC

In this photo taken from video obtained from the Shaam News Network, Syrian men run to aid injured people in the aftermath of a strike by Syrian government warplanes on a neighborhood south of Damascus, Monday, Jan. 14, 2013.
In this photo taken from video obtained from the Shaam News Network, Syrian men run to aid injured people in the aftermath of a strike by Syrian government warplanes on a neighborhood south of Damascus, Monday, Jan. 14, 2013.
VOA News
Fifty-seven countries, led by Switzerland, are calling for the United Nations Security Council to refer the Syria conflict to the International Criminal Court for an investigation into war crimes.

The letter, sent on Monday to the 15-member Security Council, cites the findings of a U.N. panel documenting torture, sexual violence and summary executions that have occurred in Syria since the start of the uprising in March 2011.

It demands the Security Council open an ICC investigation "without exceptions and irrespective of the alleged perpetrators."

As the violence continues, humanitarian groups are calling on the international community to increase aid for refugees driven from their homes by the crisis.

The International Rescue Committee issued a new report Monday warning that the region faces a "staggering humanitarian disaster."  It outlines the challenges refugees face in accessing health care, as well as what it calls "horrific levels" of sexual violence that many families cited as their reason for fleeing Syria.

The group is urging donors to meet calls by the United Nations for $1.5 billion in funding, as well as other resources to help neighboring countries now housing thousands of Syrian refugees.
Selena Victor, advocacy director with the IRC, said even if the conflict in Syria ends, the effects of the fighting will leave a long-term, large-scale need for refugee and reconstruction aid.

"The needs are enormous - there are two million people who have been forced to flee their home, half a million refugees in the region," said Victor. "The whole of the infrastructure inside Syria has been basically decimated. And the impact on people has been absolutely massive. The reconstruction efforts required will be enormous, and I think we need to take that on board right now."

The violence continued Monday with Syrian fighters jets continuing to bomb the Damascus suburbs.  Activists say air strikes on the rebel-held town of Moadamiyeh, southwest of the capital, killed at least 13 people, including women and children. 

  • Syrian security personnel, members of the civil defence and civilians gather at the site where a large blast hit a neighborhood of Aleppo, January 18, 2013.
  • A Free Syrian Army fighter runs for cover at a suburb of Damascus, January 17, 2013.
  • Residents stand near buildings damaged by missiles fired by a Syrian Air Force fighter jet in Daraya, January 17, 2013.
  • A Free Syrian Army fighter holds a rifle in the Ain Tarma neighborhood of Damascus, January 15, 2013.
  • Syrians gather at the scene of an explosion outside Aleppo University, between the university dormitories and the architecture facility, January 15, 2013.
  • A street vendor sells cotton candy in Aleppo, January 15, 2013.
  • A woman walks near a crater caused by missiles fired by a Syrian Air Force fighter jet near Idlib, January 15, 2013.
  • Buildings in Erbeen, near Damascus, damaged by missiles fired by a Syrian Air Force fighter jet, January 15, 2013.
  • Internally displaced Syrian children sit on a bench at a school in Aleppo, January 14, 2013.
  • People gather at a site hit by missiles fired by a Syrian Air Force fighter jet in Azaz, north of Aleppo, January 13, 2013.
  • A Free Syrian Army fighter aims his weapon in the Saif al-Dawlah neighborhood of Aleppo, Syria, January 13, 2013.
  • A farmer transports a tree which will be used for heating in the countryside of Idlib January 13, 2013.
  • A boy, standing next to his father, cries as they wait to receive humanitarian aid in the countryside of Idlib January 13, 2013.
The Syrian government has been waging an offensive to dislodge rebels from strategic areas around Damascus.  Activists reported at least 130 deaths across the country Sunday.

Meanwhile, Russia urged the rebels to make counter-proposals to those made by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in a recent speech to start a dialogue that could end the fighting.

​Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Sunday that if he were "in the opposition's place," he would come up with ideas in response on how to establish a dialogue.

He repeated Russia's position that the opposition's demand for  Assad to quit could not be a precondition for peace talks to end the 21-month conflict that has killed at least 60,000 people.

You May Like

Syrian Rebels Poised for Anti-Russia Collaboration

Forty-one insurgent groups issue joint statement vowing retaliation for Russian air offensives More

Political Maneuver Revives Export-Import Bank's Chances

Parliamentary tactic gets bill out of committee, but it faces opposition in the Senate More

Beijing Warns US on S. China Sea Patrols

Warning follows news reports Thursday that US military is planning to sail warships close to artificial islands Beijing has been aggressively building More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
by: Kafantaris from: USA
January 15, 2013 3:58 PM
Knowing that their fate is sealed -- with little expectation of mercy -- Assad and his followers are in a destructive mode dangerous to us all.
Either we take then out now or we deal with their mess later.
And forget Russia. The world community must act now and neither Russia nor China have any moral grounds to stop us.
Besides, we have waited for these two long enough.

by: The Poor Destiny Of Assad from: USA
January 15, 2013 7:35 AM
Some persons in the world have guessed that, Assad’s destiny can be just like Gaddafi’s.

by: Michael from: USA
January 14, 2013 8:20 AM
Switzerland leads the way for the criminal court by finding more evidence from the shared violence, which removes the Syrian problem once and for all out of failed talks to a external goal: prosecution. The summation of crimes result in more than a few so it is difficult to understand how this could be presented in one court

by: Assad Will Face ICC !!! from: USA
January 14, 2013 6:59 AM
Assad, from a legal president of Syria, becomes an illegal president, and from an illegal president, becomes a very serious criminal not only of Syria, but also the whole world.
Certainly, he will have to face ICC, in the near future.
This is a really necessary lesson for the rest of all dictatorial and cruel leaders worldwide.
In Response

by: Anonymous
January 14, 2013 11:56 AM
You would think so wouldn't you but nooooo it still happens. Look at Iraq and Libya, you would think Bashar would get the hint not to be so brutal, but he was.... In fact more brutal than any of the other countries the US went after already. Bashar is up _hit creek without a paddle now.

by: Anonymous
January 14, 2013 4:49 AM
What would also be wonderful, is if they do go after Bashar al Assad for massacres and genocide... The world will want a Russian Government explanation for protecting and arming a terrorist leader inflicting genocide on the nation of Syria. This would be a serious slap to Putins face.
In Response

by: PutinWillGetHeavyStorms! from: The US
January 15, 2013 7:15 AM
To Putin, brutal violence is the best key for everything.
But surely, in the near future, everything won’t be too simple like all his calculations for his power, as well as for destinies of all dictatorial and cruel leaders worldwide, that have been supported well by him…

by: musicmaster from: Netherlands
January 14, 2013 4:31 AM
Maybe Syria should start a case at the ICJ against the US, Turkey, Qatar and Saudi Arabia for supporting the uprising. With Nicaragua-US case about support for the Contras case as a precedent that would be a sure win for Syria.

by: Anonymous
January 14, 2013 4:26 AM
Absolutely 100 % the best news I;ve heard yet about Syria.
Bashar will be the first on their list, he deserves to be behind bars for the rest of his life.

by: Carlos .. from: US
January 13, 2013 11:14 PM
It is disgraceful and despicable cowardice shown by President Obama in his abandonment of the Syrian people and his implicit support of Hitler in Damascus .. his State Dept smarties in pin-stripes tell him that he should not help the rebels to win too soon .. or not at all .. because there would be anarchy in Syria .. it is better to keep Hitler in power .. so what if hundreds of brave and innocent Syrians are maimed and murdered .. I have been to Aleppo .. it is shameful to be an American with President Obama in charge ..
In Response

by: Anonymous
January 14, 2013 11:55 AM
Well Russia is not wanting anyone to help oust Bashar criminal or not it seems, and has their entire Navy Fleet not far from Syrias coast. It was USA that tried to help the legal way, and the Russians and Chinese snubbed that idea. I was upset the west couldnt do anything either but it is the fault more of the Russians than anyone.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
House Republicans in Chaos as Speaker Favorite Withdrawsi
Jim Malone
October 09, 2015 12:32 AM
The Republican widely expected to become the next speaker of the House of Representatives shocked his colleagues Thursday by announcing he was withdrawing his candidacy. The decision by Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy means the race to succeed retiring Speaker John Boehner is now wide open. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports.

Video House Republicans in Chaos as Speaker Favorite Withdraws

The Republican widely expected to become the next speaker of the House of Representatives shocked his colleagues Thursday by announcing he was withdrawing his candidacy. The decision by Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy means the race to succeed retiring Speaker John Boehner is now wide open. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports.

Video German, US Officials Investigate Volkswagen

German officials have taken steps to restore some of the reputation their car industry has lost after a recent Volkswagen diesel emissions scandal. Authorities have searched Volkswagen headquarters and other locations in an effort to identify the culprits in the creation of software that helps cheat on emission tests. Meanwhile, a group of lawmakers in Washington held a hearing to get to the bottom of the cheating strategy that was first discovered in the United States. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Why Are Gun Laws So Hard for Congress to Tackle?

Since taking office, President Barack Obama has spoken out or issued statements about 15 mass shootings. The most recent shooting, in which 10 people were killed at a community college, sparked outrage over the nation's gun laws. But changing those laws isn't as easy as many think. VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports.

Video Hungary Criticized for Handling of Refugees

Amnesty International has accused Hungary of breaking multiple international and European human rights laws in its handling of the refugee crisis. As Henry Ridgwell reports, thousands of migrants and refugees continue to travel through the Balkans to Hungary every day.

Video Iraqi-Kurdish Teachers Vow to Continue Protest

Sixteen people were injured when police used tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse teachers and other public employees who took to the streets in Iraq’s Kurdish north, demanding their salaries from the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG). VOA’s Dilshad Anwar, in Sulaimaniya, caught up with protesting teachers who say they have not been paid for three months. Parke Brewer narrates his report.

Video Syrian Village Community Faces Double Displacement in Lebanon

Driven by war from their village in southwestern Syria, a group of families found shelter in Lebanon, resettling en masse in a half-built university to form one of the biggest settlements of its kind in Lebanon. Three years later, however, they now face being kicked out and dispersed in a country where finding shelter as a refugee can be especially tough. John Owens has more for VOA from the city of Saida, also known as Sidon.

Video Bat Colony: Unusual Tourist Attraction in Texas

The action hero Batman might be everyone’s favorite but real bats hardly get that kind of adoration. Put more than a million of these creatures of the night together and it only evokes images of horror. Sarah Zaman visited the largest urban bat colony in North America to see just how well bat and human get along with each other.

Video Device Shows Promise of Stopping Motion Sickness

It’s a sickening feeling — the dizziness, nausea and vomiting that comes with motion sickness. But a device now being developed could stop motion sickness by suppressing certain signals in the brain. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.

Video Making a Mint

While apples, corn, and cranberries top the list of fall produce in the US, it’s also the time to harvest gum, candy, and toothpaste—or at least the oil that makes them minty fresh. Erika Celeste reports from South Bend, Indiana on the mint harvest.

Video Activists Decry Lagos Slum Demolition

Acting on a court order, authorities in Nigeria demolished a slum last month in the commercial capital, Lagos. But human rights activists say the order was illegal, and the community was razed to make way for a government housing project. Chris Stein has more from Lagos.

Video TPP Agreed, But Faces Stiff Opposition

President Barack Obama promoted the Trans-Pacific Partnership on Tuesday, one day after 12 Pacific Rim nations reached the free trade deal in Atlanta. The controversial pact that would involve about 40 percent of global trade still needs approval by lawmakers in respective countries. Zlatica Hoke reports Obama is facing strong opposition to the deal, including from members of his own party.

Video Ukranian Artist Portrays Putin in an Unusual Way

As Russian President Vladimir Putin was addressing the United Nations in New York last month, he was also being featured in an art exhibition in Washington. It’s not a flattering exhibit. It’s done by a Ukrainian artist in a unique medium. And its creator says it’s not only a work of art - it’s a political statement. VOA’s Tetiana Kharchenko has more.

VOA Blogs