Arab neighbours back UN vote to end Syrian violence

The UN Human Rights Council sent a clear message that those who are responsible for bloodshed will be held to account
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The Independent Online

The UN's top human-rights body voted overwhelmingly yesterday to demand that Syria end its bloody crackdown and co-operate with an international probe into possible crimes against humanity.

The UN Human Rights Council voted 33-4 to condemn the violence by Syrian authorities – strongly underscoring the growing international isolation of President Bashar al-Assad – and dispatch a human rights team to probe alleged atrocities since March.

The countries voting in favour included all four Arab voting members of the council – Jordan, Kuwait, Qatar and Saudi Arabia. Russia and China voted against, along with Cuba and Ecuador. The remaining countries on the 47-nation council abstained or were absent.

Western diplomats quickly capitalised on the resolution's strong support and the symbolism of the council's Arab members voting in favour of it. US Ambassador Eileen Donahoe said the broad consensus shows the extent to which Mr Assad has become isolated. Jeremy Browne, a British Foreign Office minister, said the resolution also sends "a clear message to the Syrian regime that the brutal repression must stop and that those responsible for the violence will be held to account for their crimes".

In the face of sharp opposition from China, Russia and other nations suspicious of international intervention in a country's affairs, the resolution was somewhat watered down from its original language. The title "Grave human-rights violations" became, for example, "the human-rights situation" in Syria.

The resolution came shortly after yet another claim of state violence in Syria, as human-rights activists said security forces had killed at least seven people in a flashpoint central city after a visit by members of a UN humanitarian team.

Seven people died on Monday, four of them when troops opened fire to disperse anti-government protesters in Homs.