South Africa abstained from voting on a United Nations Security Council resolution on Syria because it was "unbalanced", Deputy International Relations and Co-operation Minister Ebrahim Ebrahim said on Friday.
"We abstained because we felt the resolution was unbalanced; it only targeted the Syrian government," Ebrahim told reporters in Pretoria.
"It said nothing about the opposition, who are now fighting in the capital [Damascus]," he said.
The rebel forces in Syria were not just defending themselves, but were on the offensive and wanted to take power, Ebrahim said.
On Thursday, Russia and China vetoed a security council resolution to extend a UN observer mission in Syria for 45 days.
The resolution also threatened Syrian authorities with sanctions if they did not stop using heavy weapons against the uprising, and withdraw troops from towns and cities.
There were 11 votes in favour of the resolution in the 15-nation council.
South Africa and Pakistan both abstained from voting.
Ebrahim said South Africa supported the extension of the deadline for the UN mission in Syria, but the resolution should not have included the issue of sanctions.
The Russians were against this aspect of the resolution too, as they said it could open the door to military intervention.
South Africa is a non-permanent member of the UNSC.
A UN communiqué on Syria said the crisis between the government and the opposition movement had "continued unabated" since an uprising against President Bashir Assad began about 16 months ago.
The UN estimated that over 10 000 people, mostly civilians, had been killed in the fighting, and tens of thousands displaced.