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Civil war in Syria

France circulated a draft resolution to UN Security Council members on Monday that seeks to refer the three-year-old civil war in Syria to the International Criminal Court for possible prosecution of war crimes and crimes against humanity.

The 15-member council is due to meet on Wednesday to discuss the draft and it could be voted on within days, diplomats said.

But Moscow - a veto-wielding council member and ally of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad - has made clear it is against such a move. Russia, supported by China, has already blocked three resolutions that would have condemned Assad's government, threatened sanctions and called for war crimes accountability.

Russian UN Ambassador Vitaly Churkin has reinforced Moscow's stance against referring Syria to The Hague-based court, telling Reuters: "Our position has not changed."

More than 150,000 people have been killed in the Syrian conflict. Some 2.5 million people have fled abroad and 9 million people inside the country need help, including nearly 3.5 million who have no access to essential goods and services.

UN investigators said in March that they had expanded their list of suspected war criminals from both sides in the civil war and that the evidence was solid enough to prepare any court indictment.

[Reuters]

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