Members of the United Nations Security Council Tuesday viewed graphic pictures taken in Syria that show what appear to be evidence of brutal torture, including eye gougings, strangulation and long-term starvation by the Syrian government.
The informal Council meeting was organized by France to give the 15-member body a chance to see some of the 55,000 photographs taken by a former member of the Syrian military police.
France's ambassador to the U.N., Gerard Araud, said it was important for the Security Council to see the images, as his government prepares a resolution that would refer the Syrian conflict to the International Criminal Court for possible war crimes indictments. Araud said the Council "fell into silence" after seeing the images.
Nearly 60 countries have demanded that the Syrian situation be referred to the court in The Hague. But it is up to a majority of the Security Council to decide to send it there.
A team of legal and medical experts has studied the 55,000 images smuggled out of Syria by the former military photographer, identified by the code name "Caesar."
While the photos appear to offer evidence of war crimes by the Syrian government, officials said crimes also have been committed by opposition forces, although their actions were not documented by "Caesar."