Expressing "outrage" at the escalation of violence in Syria, and particularly Aleppo, the UN General Assembly on Dec. 9 adopted a resolution demanding an immediate and complete end to all attacks on civilians, as well as a lifting of all sieges on cities and towns. The Canada-sponsored resolution was adopted by a vote of 122 in favor, 13 against and 36 abstentions. The text also expressed grave concern at the continued deterioration of the humanitarian situation in the country and demanded "rapid, safe, sustained, unhindered and unconditional humanitarian access throughout the country for UN…and all humanitarian actors."
Action in the Assembly comes just days after the UN Security Council failed to adopt a similar resolution demanding a ceasefire in Aleppo, with Russia and China using their veto power. (UN News Centre, Nov. 9)
Venezuela, Bolivia, Nicaragua betray Syria
Pressure had been building for General Assembly action on Syria as the carnage in Aleppo has escalated and Secuity Council action has been blocked by Russia—the very power carrying out the carnage. The General Assembly website informs us that Venezuela spoke against the resolution, which is disappointing but predictable. While the actual record of the vote does not appear to be online, we are given to understand that Venezuela was joined in its "no" vote by Bolivia and Nicaragua. These Latin American "anti-imperialist" governments have voted on the wrong side on Syria resolutions before, and Bolivia's Evo Morales has weighed in publicly for the genocidal Bashar Assad. But the case of Nicaragua is particularly depressing. This is the same country (and under the same president, Daniel Ortega) that in 1986 won a World Court ruling against the US for crimes that were horrific enough but pale beside those now being committed by Assad.
‘Sectarian cleansing’ feared in Aleppo
The Assad regime preceded its assault on Aleppo with air-dropped leaflets warning the residents to flee or be "annihilated." But fleeing to regime-cotrnolled territory is also likely to mean annihilation, as Assad's forces have been repeatedly accused of "sectarian cleansing," with Sunnis from taken areas assumed to be rebel sympathizers and facing reprisals. Al Jazeera now reports that UN High Commissioner for Human Rights spokesman Rupert Colville told a news briefing his office has received "worrying allegations that hundreds of men have gone missing after crossing into government-controlled areas" of Aleppo. "Given the terrible record of arbitrary detention, torture and disappearances, we are of course deeply concerned."
Colville said family members have reported losing contact with the men, who are between the ages of 30 and 50, after they fled opposition-held areas of Aleppo about a week ago.