UN Panel Submits List of Senior Syrian Officials for Possible Abuse Investigations

Posted February 23rd, 2012 at 6:15 am (UTC-5)
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Syrian rights activists say government forces have resumed intense shelling in the opposition stronghold of Homs, while a U.N. commission said evidence shows Syrian leaders “at the highest levels” are responsible for crimes against humanity.

The independent U.N. panel said Thursday it delivered a report to the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights that included a confidential list of Syrian officials who could face investigation related to the government's crackdown on a nearly year-long opposition uprising.

The commission said it also had evidence of abuses by opposition forces.

The violence Thursday followed a day of relentless shelling in Homs and elsewhere that killed at least 74 people, including two Western journalists.

The French government identified the two reporters killed in Homs as Marie Colvin, a prominent American war correspondent working for Britain's Sunday Times newspaper, and French photojournalist Remi Ochlik.

Activists said several other journalists were wounded in the attack on a makeshift media center in the rebel-held Baba Amr district of Homs and that the center appeared to have been deliberately targeted.

The Syrian government issued a statement saying it was not aware that the journalists were in the country. Syrian state media reported that the Information Ministry “called on foreign journalists who have entered Syria illegally to regularize their status with the government.” Syria does not permit foreign journalists to travel freely and has kept most of them out.

As the crisis escalates, the United Nations said it wants to send its humanitarian chief, Valerie Amos, to Syria to secure the delivery of emergency relief.

An international meeting has been called for Friday in Tunisia to push for a resolution of Syria's crisis.

France expressed hope that the “Friends of Syria” gathering will be able to move toward a peaceful solution of the situation. U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said she wants the group to agree on more sanctions, more condemnations of the Assad crackdown, more contact with the opposition and more help for Syrians caught up in the violence.

Human rights activists say Syria's violence has killed at least 6,000 people.