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UN Rights Inquiry Alleges Syrian War Crimes

A member of the U.N.'s Commission of Inquiry on the Syria conflict is calling for the International Criminal Court to probe war crimes allegations in Syria.

Speaking to reporters Monday following the release of the team's latest report, investigator Carla del Ponte said that the time has come for the U.N. Security Council to bring about justice.

The commission's report accuses both the Syrian military and armed rebels of possible war crimes, including massacring civilians. But it stresses that the government is the main perpetrator, committing arbitrary arrests, murder, torture and rape.

The Syrian government and rebel groups did not comment on Monday's report.

The U.N. Commission of Inquiry is due next month to submit a confidential list of individuals and units allegedly involved in war crimes to the U.N. human rights office, but is not planning to make the list public.

Any decision to refer the Syria conflict to the ICC lies with the U.N. Security Council, which is deeply divided between Western nations, and China and Russia, which have blocked action.

Britain is lobbying to ease an arms embargo against Syria so that rebels can gain access to military aid in their fight against President Bashar al-Assad. Britain's foreign minister is expected to raise the issue during EU foreign minister talks Monday in Brussels.

Several foreign ministers have already expressed their opposition to lifting the embargo, with Luxembourg's Jean Asselborn stating "there is no shortage of arms in Syria."

The French news agency, citing a pro-Damascus Lebanese newspaper, quoted Mr. Assad as telling the paper he is confident his military will defeat the rebels.

The published comments came as Syrian rebels reportedly captured a key army checkpoint on the main road to the airport in the northern city of Aleppo, the latest win in their battle to secure strategic airports in the area.

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