Syria accused of atrocities
UN investigators on Monday said Syrian security forces had committed crimes against humanity, including the killing and torture of children, as Damascus lashed out at Arab League sanctions.
While Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Muallem showed reporters in Damascus a gruesome video depicting what he said was a "mass grave of security force martyrs", in Geneva, the UN report accused the regime's forces of atrocities.
Investigators from the Independent Commission of Inquiry on Syria held state officials responsible for murder, rape and torture, in their crackdown on protesters since March.
Meanwhile, highlighting divisions among foreign powers on how to deal with the bloodshed in Syria, Turkey's foreign minister said Ankara was ready for "any scenario." Russia's foreign minister for his part said it was time to stop issuing ultimatums to Damascus.
Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu suggested military force remained an option, albeit apparently a remote one, if Assad did not heed calls to halt the violence.
Davutoglu also raised the possibility of a buffer zone if the violence provoked a flood of refugees, an idea used by Ankara inside northern Iraq during the first Gulf War in 1991.
In Moscow, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov rejected calls at the United Nations for an arms embargo against Syria, saying that a similar move against Libya had proved one-sided, helping rebels to topple Gaddafi in August.
Damascus meanwhile lashed out at the Arab League for ignoring "terrorists" on Syrian territory in its decision to impose crippling sanctions.
The "Arab sanctions are a declaration of economic war on Syria," Muallem told reporters, to whom he showed the video depicting what he described as a mass grave.
Muallem called for dialogue to bring about national reconciliation, saying Syria was ready to accept Russia, its traditional ally, as a mediator.
And at the United Nations in New York, the United States and Germany led Western calls for the divided UN Security Council to act against Syria following the UN report.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said regime forces killed nine more civilians across the country on Monday.