UN General Assembly Condemns Syria

Published February 16, 2012 9:27PM (EST)

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — The U.N. General Assembly has approved a resolution backing an Arab League plan that calls for Syria's president to step down and strongly condemns human rights violations by his regime.

The vote in the 193-member world body was 137-12 with 17 abstentions.

Russia and China, who vetoed a similar resolution in the Security Council, voted against the resolution.

There are no vetoes in the General Assembly and while their resolutions are not legally binding, they do reflect world opinion on major issues.

Supporters were hoping for a high "yes" vote to deliver a strong message to Assad to immediately end all human rights violations and attacks on civilians and hand power to his vice-president.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP's earlier story is below.

MOSCOW (AP) — Russia opposes a draft resolution on Syria at the U.N. General Assembly, saying it focuses entirely on Bashar Assad's regime and fails to address the armed opposition, a top Russian diplomat said Thursday.

Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov said the new document differs little from a draft U.N. Security Council resolution that Russia and China vetoed earlier this month.

"We can't vote for that resolution, because it still remains unbalanced," Gatilov said, according to Russian news agencies. "It directs all the demands at the government, and says nothing about the opposition."

General Assembly resolutions can't be vetoed and are nonbinding, but they reflect world opinion on major issues. Supporters of the Arab-sponsored resolution hope for a high "yes" vote to deliver a strong message to Assad's regime.

Arab countries have rejected amendments to the resolution proposed by Russia.

Gatilov said a U.N. Security Council resolution would be required to send any U.N. peacekeepers to Syria.

Russia has warned that it would block any U.N. resolution calling for Assad to step down over his crackdown on an 11-month uprising estimated to have killed more than 5,400.

Moscow has maintained close ties with Damascus since the Cold War, when Syria was led by the current leader's father, Hafez Assad.

By Salon Staff

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