U.N. approves resolution blaming Assad for Syrian rights abuses
Hundreds of people were killed during the August chemical weapons attack in Damascus, which the U.N. has now condemned officially as the responsibility of the regime (File Archive/AFP)
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The U.N. General Assembly approved a resolution on Wednesday expressing outrage at “widespread and systematic gross violations” by Syrian authorities, the Associated Press reported.
The resolution, initiated by Saudi Arabia on behalf of dozens of states including the U.S., is one of the strongest criticisms yet of the regime of President Bashar Assad.
It also expresses “grave concern at the spread of extremism and extremist groups” in Syria.
The Syrian ambassador to the U.N., Bashar Jaafari, called the General Assembly resolution “outrageously hostile.”
Jaafari also criticized Saudi Arabia, which backs the rebels and has strongly criticized the Security Council’s failure to resolve Syria’s civil war, as a supporter of terrorists “throughout the world.”
The British mission to the U.N. called the vote a “strong result.”
The resolution condemns the use of chemical weapons in Syria and “strongly points” to their use by the Syrian government in an Aug. 21 poison gas attack that killed hundreds of civilians in the Damascus suburb of Ghouta.
It also notes that the Arab League and the Organization of the Islamic Conference have held the Syrian government “fully responsible” for the Ghouta attacks, and calls on the Security Council to take “the necessary measures against all those responsible for the chemical weapons attack” to ensure accountability.
The resolution demands an end to all human rights abuses, the immediate release of all detainees and immediate steps by the Syrian government to expand humanitarian relief operations.
The resolution, approved 127 to 13, with 47 countries abstaining, is not legally binding, but it’s a strong expression of world opinion on the conflict in Syria, where fighting between the government and opposition has left more than 100,000 dead.
Russia was one of 13 countries to vote against the resolution.
The U.N. Security Council, whose resolutions are legally binding, has been largely stalled on taking strong action on Syria because of vetoes from Russia, the country’s top ally.
Meanwhile, diplomats said on Wednesday that the United States is pressing for U.N. Security Council condemnation of heightened attacks in Syria in a move that could reopen divisions over the war, Agence France-Presse reported.
U.S. diplomats have proposed a draft council statement that would express “outrage” over government air strikes on the city of Aleppo.
Russia did not immediately comment on the statement that needs the agreement of all 15 council members to be adopted.
Security Council members “expressed their deep concern at the escalating level of violence in the Syrian conflict and condemned all violence by all parties,” says the proposed US statement, a copy of which was obtained by AFP.
“They expressed outrage at the use of airstrikes by the Syrian government, in particular the use of heavy indiscriminate weapons, including Scud missiles and ‘barrel bombs,’ which were dropped on Aleppo between December 15 and 18, leaving more than 100 dead, many of whom were children,” it adds.
Doctors Without Borders said at least 189 people have been killed and nearly 900 wounded in Aleppo since Sunday.
The statement also calls on all sides in the conflict, “in particular the Syrian government,” to abide by an Oct. 2 council statement that called for unhindered humanitarian access in the country.
Russia’s U.N. mission declined to make a comment on the U.S. draft statement. Diplomats predicted it would demand changes, however.
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