Republicans slam Obama on Syria after defeat of UN resolution

Republican lawmakers renewed their criticism of President Obama's handling of the crisis in Syria after a U.S.-backed sanctions resolution failed again at the United Nations.

Thursday's vote was the third time that Russia and China had vetoed sanctions against President Bashar Assad's government since a revolt against his regime erupted 17 months ago. Senate hawks have been pushing the Obama administration to arm the rebels or take other unilateral measures to stop the bloodshed and replace Assad.

“And the President watches the massacre continue...,” Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), the top Republican on the Senate Armed Forces Committee, said in a tweet.

Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio), who is viewed as a contender to be Mitt Romney's running mate, also expressed his disapproval.

“UN Security Council vote on Syria shows that the need for US leadership is more urgent than ever,” he wrote in a tweet. “Now is not the time to lead from behind.”

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) urged the Obama administration to take a strong public stand to send a message to U.S. foes such as Iran.

"I don't think we're doing enough. We don't need to be covert," Graham said on Fox News. "The last thing in the world America needs to do is hide from leadership ... I want to be overt. I want my country, our country, to stand against the torture and the murder and the slaughter."

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The defeated resolution would have reauthorized the U.N. observer mission to Syria but threatened sanctions against Assad's government if the bloodshed continued. Russia's ambassador to the U.N., Vitaly Churkin, accused the United States and its European allies of trying to "fan the flames of confrontation in the Security Council," Russia Today reports.

"The draft resolution which was voted on was biased,” Churkin reportedly said. “The threat of sanctions was leveled exclusively at the government of Syria, and does not reflect the realities in the country today. It's especially ambiguous in light of what happened with the grave terrorist attack that took place in Damascus [on Wednesday].”

Churkin added that a separate resolution renewing the observer mission without the threat of sanctions would not be brought up, leaving the mission in doubt after it expires Friday.

The U.S. ambassador to the U.N., Susan Rice, took to Twitter to say the latest veto was “even more dangerous and deplorable” than the previous two. And she reiterated that the United States “has not / will not pin its policy on unarmed observer mission deployed in midst of violence that can't count on minimal [Security Council] support."