GENEVA - The UN Human Rights Council condemned on Friday what it called "sharply escalating" violations committed by Syrian forces and extended the mandate of its investigators documenting crimes against humanity including executions and torture.

The 47-member Geneva forum adopted a resolution presented by Denmark on behalf of the European Union (EU) which prolongs the commission of inquiry's mandate through its September session.

The vote was 41 states in favor, with three against - China, Cuba and Russia - two abstentions and one delegation absent.

"This resolution focuses on accountability for human rights violations committed by the Syrian authorities. Perpetrators must be held to account," Denmark's ambassador Steffen Smidt told the talks.

The Council resolution called on the investigators to "conduct and continuously update a mapping exercise of gross violations of human rights since March 2011, including an assessment of casualty figures".

More than 8,000 people have died in the year since the uprising began against President Bashar Assad, the UN says.

The UN team, led by Brazilian Paulo Pinheiro, said in a report last month that Syrian forces have shot dead unarmed women and children, shelled residential areas and tortured wounded protesters in hospital under orders from the "highest level" of army and government officials.

It has drawn up a confidential list of people suspected of ordering crimes against humanity for future prosecution.

The resolution explicitly refers to calls by UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay for the Security Council to refer the situation in Syria to the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) for investigation.

In a rare moment of international unity on Wednesday, Russia and China joined the rest of the UN Security Council in throwing its weight behind Kofi Annan, a joint special envoy of the UN and Arab League, to end the conflict.

Click for full JPost coverage

Please LIKE our Facebook page - it makes us stronger