Nations: The 193-nation UN General Assembly on Thursday
overwhelmingly approved a resolution that endorses an Arab League
plan calling for him to step aside. The resolution though legally not as
strong as passed by the Security Council will ratchet up
pressure on Syrian President Bashar Assad.
The resolution, similar to the one Russia and China vetoed in the
Security Council on Feb. 4, received 137 votes in favor, 12
against and 17 abstentions, though three countries said their
votes failed to register on the electronic board.
Russia and China were among those opposing the resolution, which
was drafted by Saudi Arabia and submitted by Egypt on behalf of
Arab states. Unlike in the Security Council, there are no vetoes
in the General Assembly, but its decisions lack the legal force of
“Today the UN General Assembly sent a clear message to the people
of Syria — the world is with you,” news Agency Reuters quoted US
Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice as saying in a statement.
“An overwhelming majority of UN member states have backed the plan
put forward by the Arab League to end the suffering of Syrians,”
she said. “Bashar Assad has never been more isolated.”
The resolution said the assembly “fully supports” the Arab League
plan aimed at halting Syria’s 11-month crackdown on anti-Assad
demonstrators and urges UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to
appoint a special envoy to Syria.
It also condemns Damascus for “widespread and systematic
violations of human rights” and calls for the withdrawal of Syrian
forces from towns and cities. The United Nations says more than
5,400 civilians have been killed in the uprising.
Syrian Ambassador Bashar Ja’afari rejected the resolution, telling
the assembly it was part of a plot to overthrow Syria’s government
and allow the “terrorist” opposition to take over the country.
“We have deep concerns vis-a-vis the real intentions of the
countries that have co-sponsored this draft, particularly that
these countries are leading a political and media aggression
against Syria,” he said.
Those countries, Ja’afari said, are providing “all media,
financial and political support to the armed terrorist groups and
securing them coverage in international fora.”
The continued violence in Syria has
killed hundreds of people so far. According to the Human Rights
Watch, since February 3, 2012, alone the attacks have killed more than 300
persons in Homs city of Syria and wounded hundreds others,
including women and children.
It says, no adequate medical
assistance is available to the victims due to a blockade of the
city by government forces and fear of arrest if treated at