UN Assembly condemns Security Council over Syria crisis
Syrian forces killed 20 people in clashes with rebel fighters in Aleppo yesterday, activists claimed – as the United Nations General Assembly in New York passed a motion condemning the Security Council for failing to stop the fighting.
President Bashar al-Assad’s forces have killed more than 110 people in a series of attacks across the country late on Thursday and into yesterday, opposition sources said.
They reported intensified fighting in several places, including the Salaheddine district of Aleppo, Syria’s largest city.
UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon told the assembly that the deaths could amount to crimes against humanity.
He said: “Aleppo … is the epicentre of a vicious battle between the Syrian government and those who wish to replace it.
“The acts of brutality that are being reported may constitute crimes against humanity or war crime. Such acts must be investigated and the perpetrators held to account.”
The fighting spread to Aleppo from Damascus after a bomb attack on Mr Assad’s security headquarters in the capital on 18 July, which killed four of the president’s senior aides and encouraged rebels to step up hostilities.
The Syrian army has re-inforced its positions in and around Aleppo over the past two weeks, while conducting daily artillery and aerial bombardments of rebel forces.
“The focus two weeks ago was on Damascus. The focus is now on Aleppo, where there has been a considerable build-up of military means, and where we have reason to believe that the main battle is about to start,” Herve Ladsous, the UN’s under-secretary-general for peacekeeping operations, said in New York.
Elsewhere, Assad-supporting troops backed by dozens of tanks and armoured vehicles stormed Damascus’s southern district of Tadamon, in an attempt to wrest back control of the last rebel stronghold in the capital, activists said.
The resolution before the UN General Assembly in New York was passed easily by 133 votes to 12, with 31 countries abstaining.
Its Arab sponsors weakened on two key provisions – a demand that Mr Assad resign and a call for other countries to place sanctions on Syria over its civil war.
With the tougher language, the Saudi resolution had been in danger of falling below 100 votes and would have been seen as weak and lacking moral authority.
However, General Assembly resolutions are unenforceable and will only act as pressure on the security council to find a solution.
The original draft calling for Mr Assad to resign was opposed by Russia and China, which have cast a double veto in the more powerful Security Council three times to kill resolutions that could have opened the door to sanctions on Syria, or even military intervention.
The revised resolution took a swipe at Russia and China by “deploring the Security Council failure” to act.
A frustrated former UN chief, Kofi Annan, resigned on Thursday as the joint UN-Arab League envoy to Syria after his peace proposals failed.
The Syria uprising has left 19,000 dead since it erupted in March last year. The UN estimates 1.5 million people have been forced to abandon their homes.
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