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Russia says it will veto UN Security Council resolution to refer Syria war to ICC

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FILE -- In this Tuesday April 22, 2014 file photo, Syrian refugees who fled from the Syrian town of Rankous, stand next to trucks which carry their belongings, in Tfail village, at the Lebanese-Syrian border, eastern Lebanon. (AP Photo/Hussein Malla, File)

A new U.N. Security Council resolution calling for the International Criminal Court to investigate alleged war crimes in Syria will be vetoed by Russia, that country's ambassador to the U.N. said Wednesday. 

The veto would be the latest blow to Western efforts to establish culpability for alleged chemical weapons attacks and torture, among other offenses. The government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and rebel fighters have accused each other of bearing responsibility for crimes against humanity. 

Russian U.N. Ambassador Vitaly Chiurkin told the Associated Press that he sees the French-drafted resolution "as simply a publicity stunt which will have a detrimental effect, unfortunately, on our joint efforts in trying to resolve politically the crisis in Syria."

French Ambassador Gerard Araud later responded, telling reporters, "He can't argue against it saying it will undermine a political process, because there is no political process."

Activists say that more than 150,000 people have died in the four years of fighting, and tense peace talks have gone so poorly that the joint U.N.-Arab league envoy who tried to broker them has announced he will resign.

At least 58 countries have taken the unusual step of appealing to all 193 U.N. member states to show their support by co-sponsoring the resolution.

Syria is not a party to the Rome Statute that established the International Criminal Court, so the only way it can be referred to The Hague, Netherlands-based tribunal is by the Security Council. The council has previously referred conflicts in Darfur and Libya to the court, but not with so many non-council members signing on in support.

Syria, too, has been pressing U.N. member states over the vote. Ambassador Bashar Ja'afari sent a letter Tuesday asking countries not to support the resolution. A copy of the letter, seen by The Associated Press, calls the proposal "biased" and an effort to "sabotage any chance of peaceful settlement of the Syrian crisis led by the Syrian people themselves."

Fox News' Jonathan Wachtel and the Associated Press contributed to this report.