Fall in support for rebels compared to the one tabled in August

The General Assembly (UNGA) on Wednesday passed a non-binding resolution condemning the government of Syria and calling for political transition.

The vote passed with 107 of 193 nations in favour, 12 against and 59 abstentions, including India, representing a sharp fall in support compared to a similar resolution passed last August with 133 votes in favour, 12 against and 31 abstentions.

Discomfort over signals of growing extremism within the ranks of Syria’s rebel group was apparent, with India’s Permanent Representative to the U.N. Ashoke Kumar Mukherji warning that, “Unilateral action of any kind will not resolve the crisis... It will only exacerbate the problem and cause greater instability and violence even beyond Syria’s borders.”

Grave concern

In the resolution — the fifth passed by the world body on the situation in Syria — the U.N. expressed “grave concern at the continuing escalation of violence” and reiterated its call for “rapid progress on a political transition, which represents the best opportunity to resolve the situation… peacefully”.

However, hesitation among world powers in ramping up the international pressure against the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad was underscored by Russia, which strongly opposed the resolution and wrote to all U.N. members urging them to similarly voice their opposition.

Moscow cautions U.N.

Moscow repeatedly cautioned that the resolution drafted by Qatar, which Mr. Assad charged with arming the rebels against his administration, undermines U.S.-Russia efforts to organise a peace conference that U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said may occur early next month.

Pakistan, along with a majority of Western powers, voted in favour. Syria has in the past accused Saudi Arabia, Turkey, the U.S., U.K. and France, apart from Qatar, of supplying arms to the rebels.

The countries have denied the allegations but the rebels keep getting arms.

Rebel atrocities

Though the international community has watched the spiralling violence in Syria with alarm — by U.N. estimates the death toll has topped 80,000 — reservations about supporting rebel forces against Mr. Assad have mounted as accounts of atrocities allegedly committed by rebel factions have come to light.

Most recently, disturbing footage of a man, said to be rebel leader Abu Sakkar, cutting out and eating the heart from the body of a dead government soldier, circulated on the Internet.

At the same time BBC said it had been shown evidence of a chemical attack in on Saraqeb, south west of Aleppo, including eyewitness claims that “helicopters had dropped at least two devices containing poisonous gas”.

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