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Western states seek Security Council action over Syria's crackdown

A European and US draft resolution will call for UN Security Council sanctions against the Syrian regime of President Bashar al-Assad and several other top officials, council diplomats told Reuters on Monday.

More than 2,200 people have been killed in a five-month-old crackdown by Syrian forces against widespread anti-government protests that have gripped the country.

See Reuters' report here.

The draft would also call for a referral to the International Criminal Court (ICC), the diplomats said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

The resolution's drafters are the United States, Britain, France, Germany and Portugal.

The five Western powers hoped to circulate a draft to the other 10 council members. Once it reaches the full 15-nation council, there will be further negotiations and the text will likely be revised.

Last week the UN’s human rights chief, Navi Pillay, recommended the Security Council refer Syria's crackdown to the ICC saying the government may have been guilty of crimes against humanity.

Russia and China traditionally oppose the use of sanctions against any UN member state and have worked hard for months to prevent the Security Council from imposing punitive measures on Damascus.

India, South Africa and Brazil have also resisted past moves for UNSC action.

But Western diplomats told Reuters that Moscow and Beijing - as well as Brazil, India and South Africa - might be persuaded that the time has come to take action against Assad’s regime.

The Syrian leader has ignored an August 3 demand by the Security Council to end the use of military force against civilian protesters.

On Monday, Syria faced a chorus of Western and Arab condemnation for its crackdown on anti-government protesters.

China, Cuba and Russia were among the few delegations to speak in support of Syria at the UN Human Rights Council, Reuters also reported.

But the US and the European Union, as well as regional powers Egypt, Israel and Saudi Arabia, accused the President Assad's regime of waging an unacceptable assault on unarmed civilians.

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