End the massacre in Syria

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End the massacre in Syria

The bloody conflict in Syria has reached a level of intensity that makes it clear the 48-year rule of the late Hafez al-Assad and his son Bashar cannot endure.

The armed opposition groups that now dominate most cities have entered the capital of Damascus.

Nonetheless, the bloodshed in Syria is far from over and the safety of civilians - men, women and children - in the battered country remains in considerable doubt.

The outcome in Syria is expected to produce a result similar to the broad democracy movements in Muslim communities that brought down despotic regimes in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya.

But the country has paid too dearly. For the past 17 months, the Syrian government has ruthlessly massacred protesters, raising the death toll to more than 17,000, mostly civilians.

Government forces and militias have been accused of the most grave human rights violations and crimes against humanity.

As the armed conflict intensifies, the continued victimization of civilians and inhumane conditions for children and patients are of international concern. Thousands are said to be demanding medical care that has been delayed or hampered by the government.

Now that the opposition groups control border areas, the UN and international community must accelerate medical and food aid to help ease civilian losses and pain.

The UN Security Council must devise a solution to the crisis as quickly as possible. Past relief plans and resolutions in the UN have all been blocked by Russia and China.

Unless they want to be branded as accomplices in a massive crime against humanity, Moscow and Beijing must cooperate in a multilateral effort to resolve the crisis and stop the bloodshed.

NATO, which led a multinational military intervention to support rebels in their war against Libyan strongman Muammar el-Qaddafi, should demonstrate similar resolve in Syria.

It is incumbent upon the international community to do what it takes to prevent further civilian losses in Syria.

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