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UN Chief Supports Embattled Syria Commission

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Guterres says work of commission on crimes against civilians 'integral'

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Monday expressed support for a commission within the global body tasked with investigating crimes against civilians in Syria, a day after it lost a prominent member.

Guterres "supports the continued work of the commission as an important and integral part of the accountability process", spokesman Stephane Dujarric told journalists.

His remarks follow the resignation of Carla del Ponte as a member of the Commission of Inquiry on Syria for what she characterized as frustration about the international community's inaction.

"I give up. The states in the Security Council don't want justice," she told Swiss magazine Blick. "I can't any longer be part of this commission which simply doesn't do anything."

Del Ponte is known as a prosecutor for international tribunals on atrocities in Rwanda and Yugoslavia.

"Believe me, the terrible crimes committed in Syria I neither saw in Rwanda nor ex-Yugoslavia," she said. "We thought the international community had learned from Rwanda. But no, it learned nothing."

Guterres is "grateful" for Del Ponte's service and "her contribution to the important work of the commission, also as a tireless advocate for the cause of accountability throughout her career," said Dujarric.

The commission said in a statement it had been aware of her intent since June and expressed determination to continue its work.

The Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic, the war-torn country's official name, was established in 2011 by the Human Rights Council with a mandate to investigate all alleged violations of international human rights law since March 2011.

The Geneva-based commission has conducted thousands of interviews in an effort to ensure accountability, regardless of who perpetrated the violations.

The six-and-a-half-year war has devastated an entire nation, displacing half of its population and turning 5 million residents into refugees, mostly in neighboring countries.

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