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Regime to blame for most Syria abuses: UN rights chief

Syria must be held accountable for abuses against its people and those responsible should be hauled before the International Criminal Court, UN rights chief Navi Pillay said Tuesday. "Criminal justice must be seized. The UN Security Council must be able to unite around the simple idea that terrible crimes have been committed and that they must be punished," Pillay told reporters in New York. "There has to be justice and accountability and the situation in Syria should not be allowed to slip through the cracks."

Dutch priest who saw Syria as home shot dead in Homs

Dutch priest Frans van der Lugt, who gained renown for his insistence on staying in Syria's besieged city of Homs, was shot dead there on Monday by a masked gunman. The motive for his murder was unclear, although Syria's main opposition bloc and President Bashar al-Assad's regime traded blame for the killing. Van der Lugt, 75, had become a well-known figure in the Old City of Homs, respected by many for his solidarity with residents of the rebel-held area under a government siege for nearly two years.

Dutch priest who saw Syria as home shot dead in Homs

Dutch priest Frans van der Lugt, who gained renown for his insistence on staying in Syria's besieged city of Homs, was shot dead there on Monday by a masked gunman. His death was reported by the British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights and Syria's state news agency SANA, and was confirmed by the Dutch Jesuit Order. The motive for his murder was unclear, although Syria's main opposition bloc accused the regime of President Bashar al-Assad of being behind it.

Syria opposition condemns priest's murder in Homs

Syria's opposition National Council on Monday condemned "in the strongest terms" the murder of a Dutch priest known for his love of Syria in the country's central city of Homs. "It is with great shock and sorrow that we learned of the assassination of Father Frans van der Lugt in Homs today," National Council president Ahmad Jarba's office said in a statement. "We condemn in the strongest terms this senseless criminal act and mourn his untimely death," it added.

13 rebels dead in Syria premature car bomb blast

At least 13 rebels died in a blast in the city of Homs in central Syria on Sunday as they primed a car bomb for an attack, an NGO said. In the capital, meanwhile, two people were killed when mortar fire struck the Damascus Opera House. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said at least 13 rebels were killed in the besieged Old City of Homs when a car bomb exploded. "The death toll is likely to rise because there are dozens of people missing and body parts in the area of the blast," the Britain-based group said.

Syrian forces step up anti-rebel operations

Regime tanks and warplanes pounded besieged Mleiha east of Damascus on Friday, pressing a campaign to take control of the opposition-held town, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said. Syrian warplanes also raided a rebel-held district in the northern city of Aleppo, killing at least 11 people, and 22 were wounded when mortar rounds slammed into central Damascus, the monitor said. In Mleiha at least eight fighters, including a rebel commander, were killed in fierce fighting with government forces, said the Britain-based Observatory.

Britain raps Damascus for denied aid access

President Bashar al-Assad's government bears overwhelming responsibility for an arbitrary and unjustified refusal to allow aid convoys access to 3.5 million Syrians in hard to reach areas, Britain said Friday. UN humanitarian chief Valerie Amos told the Security Council that decisions are "often arbitrary and unjustified" and that Syrian soldiers remove medical supplies from humanitarian convoys at checkpoints, British ambassador Mark Lyall Grant said.

Obama, Saudis to discuss boosting moderate Syria opposition

US President Barack Obama was in Riyadh Friday to discuss with Saudi officials ways to "best empower" Syria's moderate opposition, including militarily, a senior White House official said. Cooperation over support for the opposition in the past few months helped improve strained links between Washington and its traditional ally, deputy national security advisor Ben Rhodes told reporters travelling with Obama on board Air Force One.

Obama, Saudis to discuss boosting moderate Syria opposition

US President Barack Obama was in Riyadh Friday to discuss with Saudi officials ways to "best empower" Syria's moderate opposition, including militarily, a senior White House official said. Cooperation over support for the opposition in the past few months helped improve strained links between Washington and its traditional ally, deputy national security advisor Ben Rhodes told reporters travelling with Obama on board Air Force One.

Turkey vows 'any measures' against Syria threats

Turkey is ready to take any measures against threats to its national security from war-torn Syria, its foreign minister warned Wednesday. "The Turkish republic is a powerful state and never hesitates to take any measures to protect its national security if need be," Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu told AFP in an exclusive interview. When asked by AFP, he did not rule out the possibility of cross-border operations into the neighbouring country.
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