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Syrian activists, including members from the largest opposition group, the Syrian National Council, converged on New York on Tuesday in an attempt to get their voices heard.

“We want to convey the message that the Syrian people have lost faith in the diplomatic efforts at the Security Council,” Najib Ghadbian, a senior member of the Syrian National Council, said in a phone interview from New York.

Dima Moussa, a U.S.-based member of the Syrian National Council, added, “I don’t think it is a secret that the international efforts have failed to achieve what they set out to do.”

The conflict is having “a devastating physical and psychological impact on hundreds of thousands of people,” Valerie Amos, U.N. undersecretary general for humanitarian affairs, said Monday.

Donatella Rovera, senior crisis response adviser at Amnesty International who was in Syria in April and May, said addressing the humanitarian crisis should be a top priority for the international community.

“Unfortunately, the fate of the civilian population has been very much neglected, if not ignored altogether, in the context of the kind of debates that have been had at the international level and the kind of options that have been considered,” Ms. Rovera said.

The debate at the United Nations is taking place on the eve of the Friday expiration of the mandate of a 300-member-strong U.N. observer mission. The U.N. team’s effectiveness has been severely hampered by its small size and limited authority, which was to observe a cease-fire that never happened.

Ms. Rovera called on the international community to expand the mandate of the U.N. observers, push for free access for a U.N. commission of inquiry and refer the Assad regime to the International Criminal Court at The Hague, as it did with Moammar Gadhafi’s regime in Libya in February 2011.

“It is regrettable that [the referral to the International Criminal Court] wasn’t done earlier, but I think it’s not too late to do it because we haven’t seen the worst of the violence in Syria,” she added.

In Congress, Reps. Steve Israel, New York Democrat, and Tom Cole, Oklahoma Republican, have introduced a resolution that calls for Mr. Assad to be tried before the world court for crimes against humanity. That bill is now in the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

“We cannot turn a blind eye to the innocent men, women and children who are being brutally murdered on a daily basis in Syria,” Mr. Israel said.

The worsening violence has made it imperative that the resolution be passed, he said.

“This would ensure that the U.N. Security Council take action immediately to have President Assad tried before the International Criminal Court for his horrific crimes against humanity,” he added.

Syrian rebels, armed with Kalashnikovs and rocket-propelled grenades they seized from the regime, are in a mismatched war against the regime’s better-armed forces. Syrian activists say other nations must arm the rebels.

“The bare minimum is providing assistance to the Free Syrian Army, whether it is providing arms or a safe area,” Ms. Moussa said.

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