Russia against Hague trial for Syria

Moscow, Jan 16 (IANS/RIA Novosti) The Russian foreign ministry has slammed a request by a few dozen countries that the Syria crisis be referred to the International Criminal Court (ICC).

"We believe the initiative is untimely and counterproductive for the resolution of the priority task, which is to immediately stop bloodshed in Syria," the ministry said.

It said the initiative would only "complicate the search for ways to politically and diplomatically settle the Syrian conflict".

In a letter, over 50 countries led by Switzerland called on the UN Security Council to refer the Syria conflict to the ICC - a body prosecuting people for genocide and war crimes.

The letter said the Security Council "must ensure accountability for the crimes that seem to have been and continue to be committed in the Syrian Arab Republic and send a clear signal to the Syrian authorities".

Meanwhile, the Russian Consulate General in the northwestern Syrian city of Aleppo has suspended operations, a spokesman for the Russian Embassy in Syria reported Tuesday.

Aleppo, Syria's largest city, 340 km north of the capital Damascus, has been the scene of months of fighting between government forces and rebel groups.

Most of Aleppo is controlled by the Free Syrian Army, an armed opposition group. The city's residents are suffering shortages of food and electricity.

At least 60,000 people have been killed in Syria's conflict since March 2011, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay has said.

--IANS/RIA Novosti

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