Syria protests repression condemned
World powers have paved the way for the United Nations to lead a probe into Syria's bloody crackdown against protesters.
In a 26-9 vote, the UN's top human rights body used a special session to say it "unequivocally condemns the use of lethal violence" by Syrian authorities against peaceful demonstrators and the "hindrance to access of medical treatment".
The session saw nations demand that President Bashar Assad's government immediately stop the violence, release political prisoners and lift restrictions on media and access to the internet.
The vote came as forces again opened fire on demonstrators in Syria, where human rights groups say around 500 people have been killed since the uprising began last month.
Tens of thousands were reported to have joined the latest demonstrations with several said to have been wounded when security forces opened fire in the port city of Latakia.
The Human Rights Council, based in Geneva, Switzerland, said it would ask the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights to dispatch a mission to investigate "all alleged violations of international human rights law and to establish the facts and circumstances of such violations and of the crimes perpetrated".
The council said it wanted reports at its next full sessions and urged Assad's government "to co-operate fully with and grant access to personnel from the mission" dispatched by the UN office.
It also asked that UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon and the UN's top human rights official, Navi Pillay, provide logistical support.
A simple majority vote was required to pass the resolution. China and Russia were among those opposed, while Saudi Arabia and six other nations abstained.
Addressing the meeting earlier, the UK's permanent representative, Peter Gooderham, said: "This violent repression is completely unacceptable and must stop immediately." There could be "no justification for the severity of the attempts to silence demonstrators" or the restriction on access by lawyers, journalists and human rights officials, he said, calling for UN human rights officials to be granted "immediate access".