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Syrian opposition calls for ‘battle of liberation’ if U.N. fails to end bloodshed

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Outgoing Syrian opposition leader Burhan Ghalioun called on Sunday for a “battle of liberation” against the regime until the United Nations takes action under Chapter Seven which allows military intervention.

“I call on the Syrian people to lead a battle of liberation and dignity, relying on its own forces, on the rebels deployed across the country and the Free Syrian Army brigades and friends,” he told a news conference in Istanbul.

Ghalioun, outgoing leader of the Syrian National Council (SNC), said such action would be taken “unless the international community assumes its responsibilities under Chapter Seven” of the U.N. charter.

A Chapter Seven resolution, which can be imposed by the UN Security Council, authorizes foreign powers to take measures including military options.

Ghalioun, in a meeting earlier with Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, said the anti-regime uprising in Syria had reached a “turning point” after the killings on Friday and Saturday of more than 90 people in a central town.

“The SNC calls on the international community and in particular (UN-Arab League envoy) Kofi Annan to act immediately to halt the killings,” an unnamed Turkish source quoted him as telling Davutoglu.

After an international outcry over what activists branded a massacre, the Syrian government on Sunday denied its forces were responsible for the killing of at least 92 people, a third of them children, in the town of Houla.

“Rule by murder”

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton demanded that those who carried out the killings be held to account.

“The United States will work with the international community to intensify our pressure on Assad and his cronies, whose rule by murder and fear must come to an end,” she said.

France said it would call a meeting of the Friends of Syria, a group of Western and Arab countries keen to see Assad removed.

Britain said it would summon Syria’s envoy over the massacre and that it would call for a meeting of the U.N. Security Council in coming days.

The United Arab Emirates requested an urgent meeting of the Arab League, whose head, Nabil Elaraby, urged the U.S. Security Council to stop the killing.

But there was no immediate official word from Russia, which along with China has vetoed Council resolutions calling for tougher action.

Although the ceasefire plan negotiated by former U.N. secretary-general Kofi Annan has failed to stop the violence, the United Nations is nearing full deployment of a 300-strong unarmed observer force meant to monitor a truce.