NATO has reiterated its commitment to finding a "political solution" to the conflict in Syria, even as the Syrian opposition rejected a peace plan backed by the United Nations, Russia, and the United States.
NATO chief Anders Fogh Rasmussen said that the Syrian conflict had put the stability of the entire region at risk, but added that NATO would not intervene militarily in the conflict.
"The right response to this crisis remains a political response and a concerted response by the international community against a regime that has lost all humanity and all legitimacy," Rasmussen said.
His remarks come after Russia's Foreign Ministry announced earlier on July 2 that it would host talks with two Syrian opposition groups later this month to discuss a political transition plan.
The plan, announced after international talks in Geneva on June 30, calls for the formation of a government that could include members of both the regime and the opposition.
The plan was labeled a "mockery" by the Syrian opposition because it did not call for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to step down. The Free Syrian Army, whose fighters are battling the regime, has denounced the meeting as a "conspiracy" that serves the policy goals of the regime's allies in Russia and Iran.
Calls To Strengthen Peacekeepers
Also on July 2, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay called on the Security Council to strengthen the suspended UN observer mission in Syria.
Pillay also called for the Syrian conflict to be referred to the International Criminal Court in The Hague, a move Russia would likely block.
Pillay spoke after briefing the council in New York. She said the flow of arms to both the Syrian government and the opposition risked escalating the conflict, which "must be avoided at all costs."
Pillay said antigovernment forces were accused of using children as human shields, and that if the Syrian government granted her staff access, they would investigate the claim.
Earlier, the Arab League and Turkey urged Syria's divided opposition to unite and present a credible alternative to Assad's regime.
The unity calls were made at the opening of a two-day meeting organized by the Arab League to try to rally Syria's opposition, which has been beset by infighting.
"With regard to the Syrian opposition and the conference held today, where I was with my colleagues the Arab ministers, the news that has been delivered to me is that the proceedings have been fruitful and they [the Syrian opposition] are very close to signing two documents," Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said at a news conference after the Cairo meeting.
Sixteen months into an uprising against Assad, squabbling among the opposition could hamper its efforts to win international recognition or receive more than half-hearted foreign support.
Addressing the some 200 Syrian politicians and activists, Arab League Secretary-General Nabil Elaraby urged the opposition not to waste the opportunity presented by the meeting to overcome its differences and band together to help lift Syria out of its crisis.
Meanwhile, U.S. State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland called on the international community to work toward ending the bloodshed in Syria.
"Assad and his folks, I think, never thought that Russia and China would abandon them," Nuland said. "They have essentially signed up to a plan that creates an alternative structure to Assad and his cronies."
Based on reporting by AP, dpa, and Reuters