Arab Nations Step Up Pressure on Syria at U.N.

GENEVA -- A U.N. human rights expert says Arab nations agreed Monday to demand that Syria allow an international probe within its borders to see whether crimes against humanity have been committed.

Jean Ziegler, a member of the U.N. Human Rights Council's advisory committee, told The Associated Press that Kuwait will make the demand on behalf of Arab nations at the start of the council's special session Monday.

The session by the U.N.'s top human rights body on the crackdown in Syria is being held days after a high-level U.N. human rights team recommended that the U.N. Security Council refer Syria to the International Criminal Court for prosecution of alleged atrocities.

The U.N. investigators said in their report that government forces in Syria may have committed crimes against humanity by conducting summary executions, torturing prisoners and targeting children in their crackdown against opposition protesters.

Crimes against humanity are considered the most serious of all international human rights violations after genocide.

The report concluded that at least 1,900 people had been killed in the unrest by mid-July, a figure the Syrian government confirmed but said included at least 260 members of the security forces.

Ziegler told the AP the 47-nation Human Rights Council will likely agree to an investigation in Syria with the Arab nations backing it.

The council's daylong special session on Syria was delayed from starting because of a technical glitch with the microphone system.