The United Nations General Assembly’s Social, Humanitarian and Cultural Affairs Committee approved a Saudi-drafted resolution on Thursday, condemning the Iranian and Russian intervention in the Syrian conflict.
The 193-nation assembly’s Third Committee adopted the non-binding resolution, drafted by Saudi Arabia and co-sponsored by Qatar and other Arab nations, the United States and other Western powers.
There were 115 votes in favour, 15 against and 51 abstentions.
The resolution demands that foreign militias leave Syrian territory immediately and blasted DAESH and other militant groups for abuses of rights and atrocities.
Syrian and Iranian delegations rejected the resolution, describing it as unhelpful and unjustified.
The committee said without explicitly naming Russia that General Assembly "strongly condemns all attacks against the Syrian moderate opposition and calls for their immediate cessation, given that such attacks benefit so-called ISIL [DAESH] and other terrorist groups, such as al Nusra Front."
The resolution is clearly targeting Russia, which has been carrying out air strikes against opposition forces in Syria for two months. Moscow says it has been attacking DAESH but Western officials say its bombings have mainly targeted other rebel forces, such as Western-backed groups.
Saudi Arabia has been pushing the UN human rights committee to condemn intervention by Iran and Russia in Syria.
The draft of the resolution was prepared on Nov.11 by Saudi Arabia to push the United Nations Social, Humanitarian and Cultural Committee - referred to as the Third Committee - to condemn Iran and Russia's interventions in Syria.
The resolution also condemned the presence of "all foreign terrorist fighters ... and foreign forces fighting on behalf of the Syrian regime, particularly the al Quds Brigades, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (of Iran) and militia groups, such as Hezbollah," in Syria.
Saudi Arabia’s UN Ambassador Abdallah Al Mouallimi called on UN member states to back the resolution, reminding the incident of 3-year-old Aylan Kurdi, a Syrian refugee whose body washed up on a Turkish beach in September.
"I appeal to you not to let Aylan down," he said.
"Do not kill him twice."
Syria’s UN Ambassador Bashar Ja’afari rejected the resolution and accused its Saudi authors of hypocrisy about “widespread human rights in the kingdom.” He referred to "decapitation and flogging in public squares," adding that they resembled abuses of DAESH.
Ja’afari accused Saudis, as well as Qatar and Turkey, of supporting “terrorists” in Syria. However, the delegates of Qatar, Turkey and Saudi Arabia denied the charges.
Iran's deputy UN Representative Ambassador Gholamhossein Dehghani also rejected the resolution saying that it blurred the clear distinction between “terrorists and those who fight against them.”
The resolution attracted criticism mostly aiming at the government of Syrian regime leader Bashar al Assad, an ally of Russia and Iran whom Western and many Arab nations want to see toppled and accuse him of being responsible for the nearly five-year civil war in Syria.