A key U.N. committee voted overwhelmingly Tuesday for a resolution strongly condemning "gross violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms" by Syrian authorities and government-controlled militias and demanding an immediate halt to the violations and attacks against civilians.
The resolution urges Syrian authorities to immediately release all detainees and calls for a prompt independent international investigation into abuses and violations of international law with a view to bringing to justice those responsible for war crimes, crimes against humanity and other crimes.
The General Assembly's human rights committee approved the resolution by a vote of 130-12 with 35 abstentions. Russia, China and Iran, key allies of President Bashar Assad's government, were among the countries voting "no."
The resolution is virtually certain to be adopted by the 193-member world body when it votes next month. General Assembly resolutions are not legally binding but they do reflect world opinion and carry moral and political weight.
The resolution makes no mention of opposition forces but does express "grave concern at the escalation of violence" in the country. It singles out the Syrian government for failing to protect its people.
The resolution condemns the continuing widespread rights violations by Syrian authorities and the "shabbiha" militias, citing the aerial bombing of civilians, massacres, arbitrary executions, torture, sexual violence, use of heavy weapons and the killing and persecution of protesters, human rights defenders and journalists.
It also strongly condemns "intentional and repeated attacks against medical facilities, personnel and vehicles" and the use of hospitals and medical facilities "for armed purposes."
The resolution stresses the General Assembly's support for the Syrian people's aspirations for a peaceful, democratic and pluralistic society and expresses deep concern at the failure to implement a six-point plan to end the 19-month conflict drafted by former U.N.-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan.
Syria has refused to cooperate with a commission of inquiry into rights abuses authorized by the Geneva-based Human Rights Council. The resolution demands that Syria provide immediate access to its members.