UN report documents Syrian atrocities as world leaders demand Assad resignation

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A new report from the United Nations said the Syrian regime's "crimes against humanity" should be referred to the International Criminal Court at The Hague, wire services reported Thursday (August 18th).

Meanwhile, world leaders demanded that Syrian President Bashar Assad step down from power.

British Prime Minister David Cameron, French President Nicolas Sarkozy and German Chancellor Angela Merkel issued a joint statement on Thursday denouncing the "bloody repression" underway in Syria, echoing similar calls from other prominent Western leaders.

"Our three countries believe that President Assad, who is resorting to brutal military force against his own people and who is responsible for the situation, has lost all legitimacy and can no longer claim to lead the country," the joint statement said. "We call on him to face the reality of the complete rejection of his regime by the Syrian people and to step aside in the best interests of Syria and the unity of its people."

A UN investigative team, led by Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights Kyung-wha Kang, interviewed witnesses in the region from March 15 to July 15, including protesters, refugees and deserting members of the military.

In the 22-page report, investigators detailed allegations of mass executions, prisoner torture and other atrocities.

According to the report, "Children have not only been targeted by security forces, but they have been repeatedly subject to the same human rights and criminal violations as adults, including torture."

On Wednesday, Assad talked to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon via telephone, reassuring him that military action has ended and reforms are forthcoming, a UN spokesman said Thursday.

Assad's statements run counter to claims by activists that security forces killed 10 civilians on Wednesday. Military action in Latakia, where house-to-house raids were conducted, also targeted the Ramel refugee camp for Palestinians, with UNRWA saying that nearly half of the camp's 10,000 residents had fled.

Assad also met with the ruling Baath Party's central committee on Wednesday, promising to stay "strong and resilient" in the face of international pressure.