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UNITED NATIONS, August 3 (Itar-Tass) —— The UN General Assembly has approved a resolution on Syria demanding that Damascus must stop using heavy military hardware and pull out forces from towns.
The draft submitted by Saudi Arabia and a number of other Arab countries supported by the West gained support of 133 UN member countries. Twelve, among them Russia, voted against, and 31 abstained.
The document endorsed by the UN General Assembly expressed support to the peace plan of UN/LAS Special Envoy on Syria Kofi Annan and called on parties to the Syrian conflict to stop violence for creating conditions for the Syrian transitional process. At the same time, the demands are mostly addressed to Damascus. The resolution demands that Syrian authorities must pull out forces from towns and stop using military hardware. Although the resolution’s direct indication to the need for resignation of President Bashar al-Asad was excluded, it welcomed the decisions of the League of Arab States (LAS) on Syria, including the LAS resolution of July 22, 2012, which demanded that al-Asad must resign.
The document also recommended Annan to concentrate on the peaceful mechanisms of the transition to the pluralistic democratic civil state ensuring the equal rights and freedoms of citizens. Russian Permanent Representative to the UN Vitaly Churkin described the recommendation as an attempt to rewrite the mandate of the special envoy approved by the UN Security Council. “We can neither approve nor support that because the task of [Kofi Annan] is to stop violence and to launch the dialog in Syria,” he said.
The submission of such a resolution to the UN General Assembly was predictable. Moscow and Beijing blocked three previous drafts at the UN Security Council. There are no veto rights at the UN General Assembly, where decisions are made by a simple majority of votes. At the same time, UN General Assembly resolutions do not imply sanctions or use of military forces. They can only make appeals and offer recommendations.
The ballot took place in the presence of the president of the 66th session of the UN General Assembly and the deputy secretary general for peacekeeping operations. UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon addressed the audience. He said that Syrian events could be viewed as crimes against humanity and demanded punishment of the culprits. The permanent representative of Saudi Arabia called for supporting the resolution, and the Syrian ambassador said the document was politicized.