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UN vote denounces Syrian crackdown

The UN General Assembly has overwhelmingly denounced Syria's crackdown and demanded the lockdown of its chemical and biological weapons.

The vote comes after the more powerful Security Council has been deadlocked by Russian and Chinese vetoes on resolutions that would open the door to sanctions on Syria.

General Assembly resolutions are unenforceable but can carry moral weight.

The resolution says "the first step in the cessation of violence has to be made by the Syrian authorities".

The General Assembly resolution's Arab sponsors this week weakened two key provisions - a demand that President Bashar Assad resign and a call for other nations to place sanctions on Syria over its civil war. Russia and China had objected to those provisions.

Before the vote secretary-general Ban Ki-Moon reminded the Assembly of the fresh violence in the city of Aleppo and drew comparisons between the failure to act in Syria with the international community's failure to protect people from past genocide in Srebrenica and Rwanda.

"The conflict in Syria is a test of everything this organisation stands for," Mr Ban said. "I do not want today's United Nations to fail that test."

The General Assembly vote was 133 in support of the resolution and 12 against, with 31 abstaining. Though General Assembly resolutions are unenforceable, a strong vote can carry moral weight. The revised resolution takes a swipe at Russia and China by "deploring the Security Council failure" to act.

Frustration over the lack of action was clear. Former UN chief Kofi Annan resigned on Thursday as the joint UN-Arab League envoy to Syria after his peace proposals failed. Today's session rang with accusations over why Annan's mission failed.

The Syria uprising has left 19,000 dead since it erupted in March 2011. The UN estimates that 1.5 million people have been forced to abandon their homes but remain in the country.

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