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Syria: UN Security Council inaction earns reprimand from General Assembly

The UN General Assembly is voting Thursday to demand that Syrian President Assad step down. The symbolic move will also chastise the Security Council, where Russia and China have vetoed firmer action.

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A woman walks through rubble from a building destroyed by shelling from forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad in downtown Aleppo August 1.

Goran Tomasevic/REUTERS

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Frustrated with the Security Council’s inaction on Syria, the United Nations General Assembly is set to take matters into its own hands Thursday and demand that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad step down.

The purely symbolic resolution, sponsored by Arab League countries that have pressed the more powerful Security Council to take action against President Assad, calls on the embattled Syrian leader to cede power to a transitional government. The resolution also demands that the Syrian Army stop its heavy-arms and helicopter attacks on the Syrian populace.

The question now seems to be not whether the resolution will pass, but with how many votes in favor. A General Assembly vote in February on a resolution condemning Syrian authorities’ “widespread and systematic” human rights violations garnered a commanding 137 votes. Only 12 countries voted against that resolution, but some UN officials speculate that a larger slice of the assembly’s 193 members will balk at voting for a head of state’s ouster, even as a symbolic gesture.

Thursday’s vote won’t just demand Mr. Assad’s departure, but will also express the international community’s frustration with a deadlocked Security Council.

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