Syria crisis: UN General Assembly to vote on resolution

:::::::::The UN General Assembly is due to vote on a
resolution that condemns the Security Council
for failing to stop the violence in Syria.
The text is not legally binding but is intended to
increase pressure on the council to take action.
Russia and China have blocked attempts at the UN
to impose sanctions against Damascus.
The vote follows the resignation of UN-Arab League
envoy Kofi Annan, whose peace plan failed to end
the bloodshed.
Announcing his decision on Thursday, Mr Annan said
growing violence had made his job untenable, but
also hit out at "continuous finger-pointing and
name-calling" at the UN Security Council, which he
said had prevented any consensus on action.
The Syrian government expressed "regret" at Mr
Annan's decision to stand down. Correspondents say
it is a clear recognition that the political process has
Activists say 170 people died across the country on
Thursday, including in Syria's biggest city, Aleppo,
where government forces have been trying to
reclaim areas seized by the Free Syrian Army (FSA).
UN peacekeeping chief Herve Ladsous told the
Security Council that UN observers in Aleppo were
seeing "a considerable build-up of military means,
where we have reason to believe that the main
battle is about to start".
More than 50 people were said to have died in
Hama, south of Aleppo.
Also on Thursday, at least 10 people were reported
killed when mortars hit a Palestinian refugee camp
at Yarmouk, on the southern edge of the capital,
Damascus. Both sides blamed one another for the
Activists say more than 20,000 people - mostly
unarmed civilians - have died in 17 months of
Text 'toned down'
The UN resolution requires only a simple majority of
the 193-member General Assembly to pass.
But, unlike a Security Council resolution, it will not
be legally binding.
Drafted by Saudi Arabia, which openly supports the
armed rebellion against President Bashar al-Assad's
rule, the text condemns the Syrian government's
use of "heavy weapons" and its failure to withdraw
forces from civilian areas, as demanded by Mr
Annan's peace initiative.
In an attempt to maximise votes, diplomats have
toned down the wording of the text by dropping an
explicit demand for President Assad to stand down,
according to AFP.
"The aim is to increase pressure on the Assad
government. We want as many people to back this
which is why some changes have been made," one
Arab diplomat told the news agency.
France's UN ambassador, Gerard Araud, said it
would show that Russia and China were in a "tiny
minority" at the UN General Assembly.
Russia and China have vetoed resolutions on the
crisis three times, citing opposition to any action
which might be seen as regime change imposed
from outside.
On Thursday Russian ambassador Vitaly Churkin
said: "Those same countries who were pushing this
resolution most actively are the countries who are
providing weapons to the armed opposition groups."
Iran on Friday accused "interfering countries" of
causing the failure of Mr Kofi Annan's mission.
Iranian foreign ministry spokesman Ramin
Mehmanparast said those governments "were not
satisfied with the efforts made by Annan to halt the
shipment of arms into Syria and (to put an end) to
terrorist acts".
He did not name any countries, but Tehran has in
the past accused Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey of
arming Syria's rebels in collusion with the US and
Meanwhile British Foreign Secretary William Hague
said the UK would send more "practical but non-
lethal" help to rebel forces in the coming weeks.
Earlier, US media reported that President Barack
Obama had signed a covert order authorising
support for Syrian rebels.
Mr Annan's six-point peace plan for Syria was
intended to bring an end to the fighting. But it was
never fully adhered to by either side and the
violence has continued to escalate.
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said he was
in discussion with the Arab League to find a
successor to "carry on this crucial peacemaking
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