The U.N. General Assembly has approved a resolution backing an Arab League plan that calls for Syria's president to step down and strongly condemns human rights violations by his regime. The vote in the 193-member world body was 137-12 with 17 abstentions.
Russia and China, who vetoed a similar resolution in the Security Council, voted against the resolution.
"Today, the U.N. General Assembly sent a clear message of the people of Syria: the world is with you," U.S. Ambassador Susan Rice said in a statement. Assad "has never been more isolated. A rapid transition to democracy in Syria has garnered the resounding support of the international community. Change must now come."
Earlier on Thursday, senior Russian diplomat Gennady Gatilov was quoted by Russian news agencies as saying that the draft is very close to the U.N. Security Council resolution that Russia and China vetoed on Feb. 4.
At the time, Russia had expressed concerns about the draft text, saying it feared the resolution would lead to the kind of military intervention and regime change seen in Libya after last year's council action intended to protect civilians from attacks by forces loyal to long-time leader Moammar Gadhafi.
General Assembly resolutions can't be vetoed and are nonbinding, but they reflect world opinion on major issues. Supporters of the Arab-sponsored resolution had hoped for a high "yes" vote to deliver a strong message to Assad's regime.
Arab countries have rejected amendments to the resolution proposed by Russia.
The Syrian regime's crackdown on anti-government protesters is estimated to have killed well over 5,400 people in the past year, according to the United Nations.
Syria has been a key Russian ally since Soviet times, and Moscow has opposed any U.N. call that could be interpreted as advocating military intervention or regime change.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, who met Assad in Damascus three days after the veto, said he told the president the violence must stop.
However, he emphasized Monday, this "also applies to the armed groups opposing the regime, which use modern guns, mortars and grenade launchers and also sow death."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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