By Julian Pecquet - 07/20/12 05:07 PM EDT
The United Nations Security Council on Friday unanimously approved a 30-day extension of the U.N.'s 300-member observer mission to Syria, The Associated Press reports, giving the troubled peace effort a lifeline among increasing violence.
The mission expires Friday, and its future was in doubt after Russia and China vetoed a U.S.-backed resolution tying its renewal to sanctions against the Syrian government if violence continued. The new resolution allows for the mission to be renewed if the violence simmers down, which seems unlikely as President Bashar Assad's forces battle the 17-month-old rebellion for control of the capital Damascus.
The council voted shortly after the Russian ambassador to France said Assad is ready to step down "in a civilized way," the AP reports, something Syria immediately denied.