Syrian President Bashar al-Assad urged BRICS nations Wednesday to help "stop the violence" in his country and end the suffering of his people, which he blamed on international sanctions.
His plea came as rights watchdog Amnesty International said the world must press all parties to the conflict -- which has killed an estimated 70,000 people since March 2011 -- to "end war crimes and crimes against humanity."
"I call on the BRICS leaders to work together to immediately stop the violence in Syria in order to guarantee the success of a political solution," Assad said in a letter to South African President Jacob Zuma.
"This requires clear international will in order to dry out the terrorists' resources, and to put an end to their financing and their arming," Assad said in the letter published by state news agency SANA.
Almost four million have fled, either into neighbouring countries or within Syria, over the last two years, as an initially peaceful uprising has given way to a civil war that lately appears to have reached a bloody stalemate.
But Assad said the suffering of the Syrian people was "caused by unjust economic sanctions that are against international law and that directly impact the lives and basic needs of our citizens."
Syria wants to work with BRICS countries "as a just force that seeks to bring peace, security and cooperation among countries, far from the hegemony and injustice imposed on our peoples and nations for decades," Assad said.
After a meeting in Durban, South Africa, the leaders of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa expressed "deep concern" over the deteriorating security and humanitarian situation in Syria, while tacitly opposing Western calls for Assad to be ousted.
They called for a "Syrian-led political process" to achieve peace through dialogue "that meets the legitimate aspirations of all sections of Syrian society and respect for Syrian independence."
The United States, however, dismissed Assad's appeal as a sign of "the overwhelming isolation of the Assad regime."
"You see them sort of flailing for any last shred of support they can garner, which is very limited," State Department acting deputy spokesman Patrick Ventrell told reporters.
For its part, Amnesty International said: "BRICS members must press both sides -- and in particular the Syrian government with whom the Russian government has a close relationship -- to end war crimes and crimes against humanity which it is continuing to commit."