U.N. and Turkey Increase Pressure on Syria's Assad

Syria's violent repression of political dissent was blasted by the United Nations General Assembly in a resolution condemning "continued grave and systematic human rights violations by the Syrian authorities."

The vote came amid rising pressure on Damascus, as Turkey's prime minister for the first time called for Syrian President Bashar al Assad to step down -- warning of a fate like that of Libya's Muammar Qaddafi, who was captured and killed last month.

The U.N. resolution calls on Syria to immediately end all human-rights violations and to implement an Arab League plan to end the violence, two days before an emergency Arab League session on Thursday.

"The international community can no longer remain silent," said Lyall Grant, the British ambassador to the U.N.

The non-binding resolution, which was adopted by the Assembly's human-rights committee with 122 votes in favor, 13 against and 41 abstentions, accused Damascus of offenses including engaging in "arbitrary executions, excessive use of force and the persecution and killing of protesters and human-rights defenders."

The Assembly also condemned Syrian authorities for "arbitrary detention, enforced disappearances, torture and ill treatment of detainees, including children."

Russia and China earlier this year used vetoes to block a similar condemnation of Syria by the Security Council. This time, they both abstained, in a sign they might be hardening their stances toward Damascus.

Russia told the General Assembly after the vote that it had abstained because "human-rights situations can be a source of concern for the international community but can't be a pretext for interference in a country's internal affairs."

Bashar Ja'afari, the Syrian ambassador to the U.N., accused the resolution's co-sponsors of encouraging armed groups seeking to overthrow the Syrian regime. He claimed the 24 co-sponsors, which included the U.S., U.K., Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Qatar, were interfering in Syrian's internal affairs, inciting civil war, "supporting armed terrorist actions" and harming Syrian civilians with sanctions while claiming to protect them.

Also on Tuesday, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan warned that if Assad doesn't step down he could share the fates of other dictators who fought to stay on.

To read more on this story, see the Wall St. Journal article here.