Geneva: The United Nations' top human rights body will hold an urgent meeting next week to discuss the escalating crackdown in Syria, Western diplomats said on Wednesday.

The meeting will also hear a report by a high-level fact-finding team alleging serious human rights abuses by President Bashar Assad's security forces.

Diplomats from two of the Human Rights Council's 47 member countries said they have collected enough signatures including that of at least one Arab nation, Kuwait to call for the special session as early as on Tuesday.

The diplomats spoke on condition of anonymity as the request has yet to be formally submitted.     The Geneva-based council has limited powers, unlike the UN Security Council which can impose sanctions against countries on behalf of the global community.

But the human rights body frequently criticised as a toothless watchdog has become increasingly assertive in recent months, using its meetings to 'name and shame' countries found to be abusing their citizens.

In February, the council's decision to suspend Libya's membership helped galvanise international support for action against the regime of Muammar Gaddafi. Two months later, the council condemned the killing, arrest and torture of hundreds of peaceful protesters by Syrian authorities.

The fact-finding team was commissioned in April to investigate allegations of abuse, but UN officials say it was denied permission to visit Syria.

Due to be released this week, its report covers the period up to mid-July. Since then, the crackdown on opposition groups has only intensified, with the military using tanks and snipers against what the government claims are "armed terrorists," despite growing international condemnation.

(Agencies)