Arab League chief urges probe into civilian deaths in Syria

Arab World Materials 14 March 2012 03:13 (UTC +04:00)

Arab League Secretary General Nabil al-Arabi called on Tuesday for an international probe into civilian deaths in Syria, Arab media reported.

Al-Arabi has demanded the carrying out of an "independent international investigation to shed light on the events [in Syria], establish those guilty and hold them responsible," reports said.

The statement came as Syrian human rights groups reported that dozens of civilians were killed in an assault by government troops in the towns of Homs and Idlib in western Syria over the past few days, RIA Novosti reported.

According to UN estimates, more than 7,500 people have lost their lives in Syria since the outbreak of an uprising against President Bashar Al-Assad a year ago. The bloodshed has provoked an international outcry, with human rights groups blaming the Syrian government for its crackdown on civilian protesters. The Assad regime insists it has been fighting "armed gangs" and "terrorists" affiliated with al-Qaeda.

Addressing a UN Security Council meeting in New York on Monday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Moscow was ready to endorse a UN resolution on Syria if it is based on the five principles agreed with the Arab League.

These principles, declared during Lavrov's visit to Cairo last week, include an end to the violence, setting up monitoring mechanisms, unhindered humanitarian aid supplies to all Syrians, support for UN special envoy Kofi Annan's mission in the country, and non-interference in Syria's internal affairs.

Russia, a permanent Security Council member, vetoed a previous UN resolution blaming Assad for his crackdown on protesters, insisting that both the Syrian government and "armed terrorist gangs" operating in the country should be held responsible for the violence.