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U.S., Germany Call For Security Council Action On Syria

Relatives and friends pray beside the body of a man killed by gunfire from Syrian security forces in Houla near Homs on November 22.
The United States and Germany are leading renewed Western calls for the United Nations Security Council to take action in response to alleged atrocities committed by Syrian regime forces against demonstrators.

Previous moves to impose UN sanctions against the Syrian regime have been opposed by veto-holding Security Council members Russia and China.

A UN human rights commission on November 28 said Syrian troops and security forces had committed "crimes against humanity," including murder, torture, and rape -- with some children being among the victims -- after orders were given from the "highest levels" of President Bashar al-Assad's regime.

The report was released after the Arab League announced it had approved economic sanctions against Syria in response to the regime's eight-month-old crackdown on protests.

The U.S. ambassador to the UN, Susan Rice, said decisive Security Council action targeting the regime over the bloodshed was overdue, adding that the world's patience has "evaporated."

"We think it is past time," Rice said. "Now, with the Arab League having acted and it becoming increasingly clear -- even for those who would rather deny it -- that the Assad regime has participated in outrageous and now well-documented atrocities, that the patience of [Syria's] neighbors and as well as the larger international community, has evaporated, we think it's time to revisit the question [of sanctions]."

Her call was echoed by Germany's UN envoy Peter Wittig.

UN officials say there is evidence suggesting that more than 3,500 people have been killed in the Syrian conflict since March.

compiled from agency reports