Members of the United Nations Security Council on Tuesday viewed graphic pictures taken in Syria by a former military police photographer that showed what appeared to be evidence of brutal torture, including eye gougings, strangulation and long-term starvation.
The informal council meeting was organized by France to give the 15 member states a chance to see some of the 55,000 photographs that former war crimes prosecutors have described as "clear evidence" of systematic torture and mass killings in Syria's three-year-long civil war.
French UN Ambassador Gerard Araud told reporters after the closed-door session it was important for the Security Council to see such horrific images as his delegation prepares a resolution that would refer the Syrian conflict to the International Criminal Court for possible war crimes indictments.
"The council fell into silence after we displayed the images," Araud said. "Members were truly moved."
US Ambassador to the UN Samantha Power expressed a sense of horror after attending the informal council meeting.
"The gruesome images of corpses bearing marks of starvation, strangulation and beatings and today's chilling briefing indicate that the Assad regime has carried out systematic, widespread and industrial killing," she said, referring to Syrian President Bashar Assad.
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