UN: Syria death toll nearing 70,000

The death toll from the Syria civil war is nearing 70,000, UN rights chief Navi Pillay said Tuesday as she again condemned the UN Security Council's failure to agree action on the conflict.

Pillay announced only last month that the toll had reached 60,000. "That figure is now probably approaching 70,000," Pillay told a Security Council meeting on protecting civilians in conflict.

"The lack of consensus on Syria and the resulting inaction has been disastrous and civilians on all sides have paid the price," Pillay said, criticizing Security Council divisions on the 23-month-old conflict.

"We will be judged against the tragedy that has unfolded before our eyes. This council, as well of those of us in key positions within the UN, will be rightly asked what we did," she said.

Russia, the last ally of Syria's President Bashar al-Assad, and China have used their powers as permanent Security Council members three times to block resolutions that would have just threatened sanctions over the conflict.

Pillay made a new appeal for the civil war to be referred to the International Criminal Court.

"This would send a clear message to both the government and the opposition that there will be consequences for their actions, and could have a very significant preventive effect," said the outspoken UN Human Rights Commissioner.

We will be judged against the tragedy that has unfolded before our eyes.