Assad turns to BRICS to 'stop the violence' in Syria
DAMASCUS - Syrian President Bashar al-Assad urged the BRICS nations on Wednesday to help "stop the violence" in his country and put an end to the suffering of his people he said is caused by international sanctions.
At the same time, rights watchdog Amnesty International said the world must apply pressure "to all parties in the Syrian conflict to abide by international humanitarian law and human rights law".
"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 of the group of emerging powers.
"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 a letter to South African President Jacob Zuma published by state news agency SANA.
"You, who seek to bring peace, security and justice to today's troubled world, focus all your efforts on ending the suffering of the Syrian people, which is caused by unjust economic sanctions that are against international law and that directly impact the lives and basic needs of our citizens," Assad added.
The BRICS group (Brazil, China, India, Russia and South Africa) abstained from voting for a UN Security Council resolution that gave way to military intervention in Libya in 2011.
"I express to you the Syrian people's desire to work with the 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 in his letter, according to state news agency SANA.
For its part, Amnesty 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."
Rights groups have frequently called on the UN Security Council to refer the situation in Syria to the International Criminal Court, and Amnesty said BRICS countries must do all within their power to ensure that happens "o ensure accountability for international crimes committed by all sides in the conflict."