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UN Rights Chief Renews Call for Syrian War Crimes Probe

A top United Nations official says she believes both sides in the Syrian civil war have committed war crimes, and is urging the U.N. Security Council to order an official investigation by the International Criminal Court at The Hague.

U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay spoke Friday after briefing the Security Council. Her renewed call for an investigation added weight to a petition by 58 nations calling for a war crimes probe of the 22-month conflict.

Russia and China have vetoed past attempts by the council to take action, and Russia's Foreign Ministry this week said a probe by The Hague-based criminal court would be "ill-timed and counterproductive."

British Ambassador Mark Lyall Grant acknowledged divisions within the council, and conceded Friday that the grouping probably would not adopt such a measure in the near future.

The U.N. says at least 60,000 people have been killed in the conflict, and Pillay said Friday that Syrians see the situation "as the United Nations not carrying out its responsibility to protect victims."

Pillay's call to the 15-nation Security Council was supported by ambassadors from Australia, Britain, France, Luxembourg, South Korea and 53 other nations that signed a letter this week calling for action.

Earlier Friday, Syrian state media said a rocket slammed into a building in the country's northern city of Aleppo, causing casualties.

Video broadcast on state television showed large parts of the building collapsed, with medics pulling bodies out of the wreckage. The number of dead and wounded is not immediately known.

State media have blamed the attack on a "terrorist group," a term it frequently uses to describe rebels in the uprising against President Bashar al-Assad. But activists say the government launched a military airstrike in the area.

Syria's government restricts foreign media from many parts of the country, making it difficult to confirm details of attacks.

Aleppo, Syria's commercial hub and the country's largest city, has been wracked by violence since rebels launched an assault on the city in July 2012.

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