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U.N. investigators request Assad meeting

Bombs rain down on Maarat al-Numan, according to unverifiable social media video. Some estimates put the number of dead in the 19-month Syrian conflict so far at upwards of 30,000. Now a team of United Nations investigators is hoping to visit the country to look into allegations of war crimes from both the Syrian government and rebel forces. Speaking in Switzerland on Thursday, new team member Carla del Ponte said the crimes appeared similar to those she had investigated in the former Yugoslavia. (SOUNDBITE) (English) CHAIRMAN OF THE U.N. COMMISSION OF INQUIRY ON SYRIA AND FORMER U.N. WAR CRIMES PROSECUTOR CARLA DEL PONTE: "The similarity of course is that we are handling the same crimes, crimes against humanity and war crimes for sure." Team leader Paulo Pinheiro said they have asked for a meeting with the Syrian president. (SOUNDBITE) (English) CHAIRMAN OF THE U.N. COMMISSION OF INQUIRY ON SYRIA PAULO PINHEIRO: "We think that it is important to speak with someone who is in charge and then we intend to go there without conditionality, but just to meet President Assad and to discuss the access fo out commission to Syria." The U.N. investigators have drawn up a secret list of Syrian individuals and units suspected of committing crimes including murder and torture, which they say could pave the way for future prosecution.

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