The United Nations on Thursday passed a resolution on Syria condemning the brutal government crackdown on dissent by the regime of President Bashar al-Assad.
The resolution passed the General Assembly - rather than the Security Council where China and Russia have thwarted moves against Syria - with 137 nations in favor and only 12 opposed.
Introduced by Egypt on behalf of 27 other countries, including Arab states, Britain and the United States, the resolution condemns “systematic human rights violations” in Syria.
The General Assembly is expected to next demand Syria immediately adopt an Arab League blueprint to calm the uprising, to “cease all violence” against civilians and return security forces to their barracks.
Russia opposed the resolution, saying it fails to equally criticize the armed opposition mounted the Syrian Free Army that has risen up against Assad's regime in recent months.
Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov said resolution differs little from a draft U.N. Security Council resolution that Russia and China vetoed earlier this month.
“We can’t vote for that resolution, because it still remains unbalanced,” Gatilov told Russian news agencies. “It directs all the demands at the government, and says nothing about the opposition.”
Arab countries, who have called for a UN peacekeeping mission to Syria, have rejected amendments to the resolution proposed by Russia.
Gatilov said a UN Security Council resolution would be required to send any UN peacekeepers to Syria.
Russia had warned that it would block any UN resolution calling for Assad to step down over his crackdown on an 11-month uprising estimated to have killed over 5,400 people.
Syrian ambassador Bashar Jaafari criticized the Arab bloc during the session as being “countries that do not want to help in reaching a peaceful solution for Syria.”
“Arab League resolutions violate the sovereignty of Syria and conflict international laws … The Arab League are competing with enemies of the Arab world with its criticism of Syria,” Jaafari added.
“What is happening in the region does not benefit any country other than Israel … We hope that the United Nations assists Syria in the face of extremism and terrorism.”
Assad's regime has repeatedly blamed terrorists - specifically naming al-Qaeda - for the violent episodes the country has witnessed since anti-government protests erupted last year.
However, while there have been several high profile bombings in Syria that killed hundreds in recent months, the Syrian Free Army is not believed to have carried them out.
Critics of Assad's regime say his intelligence forces staged the bombings as false flag operations intended to garner sympathy for the regime and justify the continued crackdown.
General Assembly resolutions cannot be vetoed and are nonbinding, but they can form populist global perceptions on major issues.