UN condemns Syrian crisis
The United Nations General Assembly has voted by a big majority to condemn the Security Council for failing to end the Syrian conflict as fighting rages.
The UN passed a non-binding resolution, which also condemns the Syrian government's use of heavy weapons.
Members approved by 133 votes to 12 with 31 abstentions.
Annan’s failed plan
The votes, on a resolution that condemns the Security Council for failing to stop the violence in Syria came after the resignation of UN-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan, whose peace plan failed to end the bloodshed.
Government forces backed by tanks have launched a new assault in Damascus.
Shelling also continued on Friday in Syria's largest city, Aleppo.
Activists say more than 20,000 people - mostly civilians - have died in 17 months of unrest.
The text is not legally binding but is intended to increase pressure on the council to take action as Russia and China have blocked attempts at the UN to impose sanctions against Damascus.
Announcing his decision on Thursday, Mr. Annan said growing violence had made his job untenable. He also hit out at "continuous finger-pointing and name-calling" at the UN Security Council, which he said had prevented any consensus on action.
The Syrian government expressed "regret" at Mr. Annan's decision to stand down.
Start of main battle
Activists say about 170 people died across Syria on Thursday, including in Syria's biggest city, Aleppo, where government forces have been trying to reclaim areas seized by the Free Syrian Army.
UN peacekeeping chief, Herve Ladsous told the Security Council that UN observers in Aleppo were seeing, "a considerable build-up of military means, where we have reason to believe that the main battle is about to start".
More than 50 people were said to have died in Hama, south of Aleppo and at least 10 people were reported killed when mortars hit a Palestinian refugee camp at Yarmouk, on the southern edge of the capital, Damascus.
Both sides blamed one another for the incident.
Activists say more than 20,000 people, mostly unarmed civilians, have died in 17 months of unrest.
Text 'toned down'
The UN resolution requires only a simple majority of the 193-member General Assembly to pass. However, unlike a Security Council resolution, it will not be legally binding.
Drafted by Saudi Arabia, which openly supports the armed rebellion against President Bashar al-Assad's rule, the text condemns the Syrian government's use of "heavy weapons" and its failure to withdraw forces from civilian areas, as demanded by Mr. Annan's peace initiative.
In an attempt to maximise votes, diplomats have toned down the wording of the text by dropping an explicit demand for President Assad to stand down.
Regime change opposed
France's UN ambassador, Gerard Araud, said it would show that Russia and China were in a "tiny minority" at the UN General Assembly. Russia and China have vetoed resolutions on the crisis three times, citing opposition to any action which might be seen as regime change imposed from outside.
Russian ambassador Vitaly Churkin said: "Those same countries that were pushing this resolution most actively are the countries that are providing weapons to the armed opposition groups."
Iran on Friday accused "interfering countries" of causing the failure of Mr. Kofi Annan's mission.
Iranian foreign ministry spokesman, Ramin Mehmanparast, said those governments "were not satisfied with the efforts made by Annan to halt the shipment of arms into Syria and (to put an end) to terrorist acts".
He did not name any countries, but Tehran has in the past accused Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey of arming Syria's rebels in collusion with the US and Israel.
Meanwhile British Foreign Secretary William Hague said the UK would send more "practical but non-lethal" help to rebel forces in the coming weeks.
Mr. Annan's six-point peace plan for Syria was intended to bring an end to the fighting. But it was never fully adhered to by either side and the violence has continued to escalate.
UN Secretary General, Mr. Ban Ki-moon said he was in discussion with the Arab League to find a successor to "carry on this crucial peacemaking effort."