(CNN) — Human Rights Watch is calling for a boycott of new arms contracts with companies supplying the Syrian regime as the nearly 15-month government crackdown forced the country to the brink of a civil war.
The call comes after United Nations envoy Kofi Annan said Syria is “at a turning point” and that “the specter of all-out civil war, with a worry sectarian dimension, grows by the day.”
Human Rights Watch on Sunday singled out Rosoboronexport, a Russian state-owned weapons supplier, for sending arms to the Syrian regime.
“The (U.N.) Security Council should impose a mandatory international arms embargo on Syria, and Russia and China should not block it,” the group’s executive director, Kenneth Roth, said in a statement. He accused the Syrian regime of crimes against humanity and said “other governments and companies around the world should use whatever leverage they have to stop further arms supplies that could contribute to these crimes.”
Rosoboronexport did not immediately respond to the rights group’s allegations.
But iIn February, a Rosoboronexport spokesman told The New York Times that since there were no international decisions and no sanctions from the U.N. Security Council, its trade with Syria was “quite active and dynamic.”
Russia and China have opposed several U.N. efforts to address the situation, including sanctions that implicated and targeted al-Assad and his government.
In recent days, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton accused Russia of providing arms to and “propping up (Syria’s) regime.” But Russian President Vladimir Putin fired back, denying such military sales or that his government was taking sides.
Meanwhile, a U.N.-backed peace initiative continued to founder in Syria. Arab leaders signaled the need over the weekend for more robust measures to end the violence there.
Qatari Prime Minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim bin Jabor Al Thani said envoy Kofi Annan’s peace initiative should be placed under Chapter VII of the U.N. charter, Qatar’s news agency reported. Such a move would allow the U.N. Security Council to take action that can include the use of military force.
He spoke Saturday before Arab League foreign ministers in the Qatari capital of Doha. Meeting a week after a massacre in the town of Houla sparked global outrage, they discussed ways to keep the conflict from deteriorating into a full-fledged civil war.
Arab League Secretary-General Nabil el-Araby said “more audacious steps are needed” in Syria.
“We should have a timeline for the peace plan — this is a must,” el-Araby said.
“The international community needs to take immediate action after the massacre in Houla and take all necessary measures in order to protect the Syrian civilians.”
Burhan Ghalioun, outgoing president of the opposition Syrian National Council, said the regime doesn’t want a “political resolution” — despite the groundwork laid by Annan and the Arab League in recent months.
The opposition Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said 33 civilians and 61 government forces were killed across Syria on Saturday, and two rebel soldiers died.
CNN cannot independently confirm death tolls or reports of violence from Syria because the government limits access to the country by foreign journalists.
Over the border in the Lebanese city of Tripoli, fighting between pro- and anti-Syrian regime gunmen on Saturday left 12 dead and approximately 50 injured, according to the state-run National News Agency.
The sectarian violence in Tripoli mirrors the tensions in Syria between Sunnis, who make up the majority of the Syrian opposition, and Alawites, who are dominant in al-Assad’s government.
Annan made reference Saturday to such flare-ups in neighboring countries, after many Syrian civilians have fled over the border to escape violence.
Annan said he recently urged al-Assad “to radically change his military posture,” saying the government has the prime responsibility to halt the violence.
Annan said he plans to brief the U.N. General Assembly and U.N. Security Council about the crisis on Thursday.
The crisis in Syria began nearly 15 months ago, when a tough government crackdown on protesters spiraled out of control and spawned a national anti-government uprising. The United Nations for months has said more than 9,000 people have died in Syria. But death counts from opposition groups range from more than 12,000 to more than 14,000. Tens of thousands have been displaced.
CNN’s Saad Abedine, Holly Yan and Hamdi Alkhshali contributed to this report.