UN votes to condemn Syria rights abuses

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UNITED NATIONS: A United Nations committee on Tuesday (Wednesday in Manila) slammed rights abuses by the Syrian government after a debate marked by a bitter clash between the UN envoys of Saudi Arabia and Syria.

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The UN General Assembly rights committee voted overwhelmingly for a Saudi-drafted resolution which expressed “outrage” at the escalation of the 32-month-old Syrian civil war.

The committee also passed resolutions condemning Iran and North Korea and calling on Myanmar to release political prisoners and ease the suffering of Rohingya Muslims.

The Syria resolution—passed with 123 nations in favor, 13 against and 46 abstaining—laid most of the blame for the huge death toll on the Syrian government.

The resolution strongly condemned “the continued widespread and systematic gross violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms and all violations of international humanitarian law by the Syrian authorities and the government-affiliated shabbiha militias.”

In a strong condemnation of an August 21 chemical weapons attack near Damascus in which hundreds died, the resolution came close to blaming President Bashar al-Assad’s government.

A UN inquiry has confirmed that chemical weapons were used but has not blamed any side. The Assad government has accused opposition rebels of staging the attack.

The resolution said a UN inquiry “provides clear evidence that surface-to-surface rockets were fired on August 21 from government-held territory into opposition areas, using professionally made munitions containing sarin.”

AFP

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