AMMAN/BEIRUT - Syrian President Bashar Assad prepared to welcome a senior Chinese official to Damascus on Friday, a show of support from one of the few foreign friends he still has after the UN General Assembly voted for an Arab League plan telling him to step down.
Assad showed no sign of heeding calls to halt the repression of the 11-month uprising against his rule. His forces on Friday resumed pummeling opposition strongholds in the city of Homs, which has now been under fire for two weeks.
At the UN assembly in New York, 137 states voted in favour, 12 voted against and 17 abstained on Thursday on a resolution endorsing the Arab League plan. Russia and China voted against, after vetoing a similar text in the UN Security Council on Feb. 4.
The assembly vote, unlike Council resolutions, has no legal force but it increased Assad's isolation and reflected global revulsion at the ferocity of the crackdown in which government security forces have killed several thousand civilians.
"Today the UN General Assembly sent a clear message to the people of Syria - the world is with you," US Ambassador Susan Rice said in a statement.