Syrian torture reports are 'compelling and horrific' - Hague

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Foreign Secretary William Hague has stressed the importance of documenting the Syrian conflict, following a report by former war crimes prosecutors which suggests President Assad's regime has carried out torture and executions.

Damascus has denied it was complicit in any such abuse.

Shadow foreign secretary Douglas Alexander invited the government to comment during questions on 21 January 2014, on allegations he termed "deeply disturbing".

He enquired: "What steps are the international community and the UK government in particular are taking to help document and catalogue evidence about alleged gross violation of human rights?"

He also asked the secretary of state what "realistic ambitions" he has for the Geneva II conference on Syria, which begins in Switzerland on 22 January.

Mr Hague confirmed he had seen the so-called evidence, which he described as "compelling and horrific", adding: "It is important that those who perpetrated these crimes are one day held to account."

"The UK has done a great deal in the documentation of human rights abuses," he told MPs, citing the provision of training to "moderate" opposition forces in how to record such crimes.

On Geneva II, the foreign secretary sounded a note of caution: "While there have been discussions on these issues [local ceasefires and prisoner releases] over the last ten days they haven't yet borne fruit.

"I think it's important that a real effort is made in the opening stages of the Geneva II talks... Realistically we are starting a process here but it's important that a political process is started and pursued."

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