UNITED NATIONS – The U.N. General Assembly approved an Arab-backed resolution Wednesday calling for a political transition in Syria, but more than 70 countries refused to vote “yes” because of its support for the main opposition group and fears the resolution could torpedo a new U.S.-Russia effort to end the escalating conflict.

The United States co-sponsored the resolution, saying it would promote a political solution. But key Syrian ally Russia urged a “no” vote, saying it was “counterproductive and irresponsible” to promote a one-sided resolution when Moscow and Washington are trying to get the Syrian government and opposition to agree to negotiations.

The resolution, which is not legally binding though it can carry moral weight, was approved by a vote of 107-12 with 59 abstentions.

It welcomes the establishment of the Syrian National Coalition, the main opposition group, “as effective interlocutors needed for a political transition” and notes “wide international acknowledgment” that the group is the legitimate representative of the Syrian people.

It also strongly condemns President Bashar Assad’s regime for its escalating use of heavy weapons and “gross violations” of human rights.

The Arab group decided to seek approval of a wide-ranging resolution on Syria in the General Assembly, where there are no vetoes, to reflect international dismay at the increasing death toll, now more than 70,000, and the failure to end the more than two-year-old conflict.

Unlike Security Council resolutions, which are legally binding, General Assembly resolutions cannot be enforced.

But approval of an assembly resolution would counter the paralysis of the deeply divided Security Council, where Syria’s allies, Russia and China, have vetoed three Western-backed resolutions aimed at pressuring Assad to end the violence.

General Assembly President Vuk Jeremic told the 193-member world body that “what happens in Syria in the weeks and months ahead will profoundly bear upon the security and well-being of the entire region, and possibly beyond.”

U.S. deputy ambassador Rosemary DiCarlo said, “It is clear that we need a Syrian-led peaceful political transition,” explaining that this is what spurred the U.S.-Russian initiative, announced on May 7.