Russia, China veto UN sanctions against Syria

Russia and China on Thursday vetoed a United Nations resolution calling for sanctions against the government of Syrian President Bashar Assad.

It's the third time the two countries have vetoed sanctions against Assad's regime since the revolt against his rule broke out 17 months ago, sparking a conflict that has left more than 10,000 people dead. The double veto could spell the end of the U.N.'s observer mission in Syria, which expires on Friday.

The U.S. mission to the United Nations slammed Russia and China in a tweet for “preventing a credible [Security Council] response to the conflict.”

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The United States and its European allies had called for a 45-day renewal of the mission, with sanctions to kick in if the violence continues. Russia and China had proposed a 90-day extension without the threat of sanctions.

President Obama called Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday to urge his cooperation on Syria, but Russia's veto was a foregone conclusion. The country is a close ally and weapons supplier to Syria, which hosts Russia's only naval base on the Mediterranean.

“The two Presidents noted the growing violence in Syria and agreed on the need to support a political transition as soon as possible that achieves our shared goal of ending the violence and avoiding a further deterioration of the situation,” according to a White House readout of the call between Putin and Obama. “They noted the differences our governments have had on Syria, but agreed to have their teams continue to work toward a solution.”