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Mr. Ziadeh said he is working with European diplomats on documenting Syrian human rights violations during the crackdown.

“We have a lot of video documentation and other documentation of torture,” he said.

Anas al-Abdah, chairman of the Movement for Justice and Development in Syria, said the opposition would like Mr. Assad to face trial before the International Criminal Court.

“There can be no more silence while blood of innocent civilians flows in Syria,” he said. “The U.S. and the EU should prosecute Bashar al-Assad and the Syrian regime in every available multilateral forum and take all necessary and immediate measures to stop the Syrian security forces from targeting civilians and violating international laws and conventions.”

“A good start would be at the United Nations, which can vote to set up a rapporteur to investigate reports of abuses in Syria,” he added.

“Any alleged breach of human rights would be reported to the U.N. Security Council, paving the way for further actions by the International Criminal Court. This move will send a clear message to Bashar al-Assad that he cannot continue to murder his own citizens with impunity.”

Mr. Assad and other senior Syrian officials, for now, have escaped prosecution at a U.N. tribunal established in 2005 to investigate the slaying that year of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri. Other heads of state who have faced prosecution at the International Criminal Court include Sudanese President Omar Bashir and Serbian dictator Slobodan Milosevic, who died before his trial concluded.

Sen. John F. Kerry, Massachusetts Democrat and chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, in a statement Thursday urged Mr. Assad to refrain from violence against his own people at the protests scheduled for Friday.

David Schenker, director of the Arab politics program at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, said Mr. Obama has straddled the fence on Syria in the past month.

“This administration does not want to be seen right now as joining the movement for regime removal in Damascus,” he said.

“Nevertheless the atrocities are mounting. It is clear now that Assad will continue to repress violent protests on Friday. The administration should move ahead with the last of the Syria Accountability Act sanctions which would be to suspend all U.S. investment in Syria.”

Daniel Calingaert, the deputy director for programs at Freedom House, said, “It’s about time that the United States introduced targeted sanctions on the Syrian officials who are killing civilians and ordering those attacks.

“The United States should also push for the United Nations to investigate the abuses in Syria in a single resolution.”