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Egypt’s Mursi backs calls for Assad war crimes trial

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Egyptian President Mohamed Mursi told CNN on Sunday that he backs Syrian calls for President Bashar al-Assad to be tried for war crimes, and predicted that Assad’s regime would fall.

“The Syrian people, through their revolution...will, when the bloodshed stops, move to a new stage where they will have an independent parliament and the government of their choosing,” Mursi said, according to excerpts released by CNN.

“And then they will decide what they want to do against those who committed crimes against them. It is the Syrian people who decide.”

Mursi spoke through a translator after being asked if he believed Assad should be tried by the Netherlands-based International Criminal Court.

“This phase is the phase of the people. Similar to what the Egyptian people wanted, the Syrian people want it, and we support the Syrian people. They are going to win, and they have the will to win,” he said.

In October, a statement about Arab military intervention in Syria made by the Mursi on a visit to Turkey issued controversy.

The Egyptian president’s political adviser Seif Abdul Fattah later said the statements were taken out of context, and denied that Mursi had mentioned military intervention when he was in Turkey.

“The president called for doing what our conscience and ethics dictate for the Syrian people,” Abdul Fattah added.

It is important, he reportedly said, for Egypt to know the extent of this intervention and its exact goals.

Over the past 21 months, the Assad regime’s crackdown on anti-government protests has ballooned into a bloody civil war that the United Nations says has claimed more than 60,000 lives.

Earlier Sunday, Assad gave his first public speech in seven months, in which he branded the opposition “slaves” of the West, and told foreign powers to stop backing the rebels.

In Washington, the US State Department reiterated its call for Assad to resign. The European Union also called on him to step aside.