UNGA rebukes Syrian regime as troops storm Damascus, Aleppo

Assembly approves non-binding resolution expressing "grave concern" at escalation; Syrian forces storm last rebel stronghold in Damascus, blast Aleppo with helicopters; Ban: Potential war crimes being committed.

August 3, 2012 21:12
1 minute read.
General Assembly

General Assembly. (photo credit: REUTERS)

The UN General Assembly on Friday overwhelmingly voted to condemn the Syrian government and demanded a political transition in Syria, where 17 months of fighting between forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar Assad and opposition fighters.

The 193-nation assembly approved the Saudi-drafted non-binding resolution, which expressed "grave concern" at the escalation of violence in Syria, with 133 votes in favor, 12 against and 31 abstentions.

The resolution also had the assembly "deploring the failure of the Security Council to agree on measures to ensure the compliance of Syrian authorities with its decisions." It also called for "an inclusive Syrian-led political transition to a democratic, pluralistic political system."

The UN move came as Syrian forces stormed the last rebel stronghold in the capital Damascus in tanks and armored vehicles on Friday, and blasted with artillery and helicopters at Aleppo, where the United Nations said the army was preparing a massive assault.

"As we meet here, Aleppo... is the epicenter of a vicious battle between the Syrian government and those who wish to replace it," Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told the 193-nation UN General Assembly ahead of a vote on a Saudi-drafted resolution that would condemn Damascus.

"The acts of brutality that are being reported may constituted crimes against humanity or war crimes," Ban said. "Such acts must be investigated and the perpetrators held to account."

Elsewhere in the country, opposition activists said Syrian forces had killed at least 50 people during clashes with rebels in the central city of Hama on Thursday, while a helicopter bombardment killed 16 rebels near the southern town of Deraa.

In Damascus, at least 20 people were killed on Thursday when security forces fired three mortar rounds at a Palestinian camp that is home to 100,000 refugees, medical sources said. Palestinian leaders in the West Bank and Gaza condemned the attack.

United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan quit his post as international peace envoy for Syria Thursday, underlining the impotence of mediation efforts in the 17-month-old uprising against Assad.

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