The United Nations/Arab League special envoy to Syria acknowledged that a holiday truce he'd negotiated has failed as government forces continued to bomb rebels from the air on Monday.
“I am terribly sorry ... that this appeal [for a truce] has not been heard to the level we hoped it would, but that will not discourage us,” Lakhdar Brahimi told reporters, according to Reuters. “It will not discourage us, because Syria is very important and the people of Syria deserve our support and interest.”
Brahimi had hoped a successful cease-fire could create momentum for negotiations over ending a 19-month conflict that has killed more than 30,000 people. It is already showing signs of spilling over into neighboring Lebanon, where pro-U.S. security chief Wissam al-Hassan was assassinated 10 days ago after cracking down on supporters of Syrian President Bashar Assad.
Brahimi made the remarks after meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in Moscow. The Russian government has vetoed sanctions on Syria three times and is believed to be providing weapons to the Assad regime.
Brahimi next travels to China, which has also blocked sanctions.
The conflict has become a factor in the U.S. presidential race. Republican candidate Mitt Romney has accused President Obama of taking a backseat to the U.N. Romney is calling for more assistance to opposition forces seeking Assad's overthrow. Both Romney and Obama, though, have rejected U.S. military intervention.
"I don't want to have our military involved in Syria," Romney said during last week's presidential debate on foreign policy. "I don't think there is a necessity to put our military in Syria at this stage. I don't anticipate that in the future."
Brahimi did not rule out sending a U.N. peacekeeping mission to Syria as a next step, but that would normally require the approval of both Syria and the U.N. Security Council, where Russia and China have veto power.
“There is no plan for the moment to send a peacekeeping mission,” Brahimi said, “but just the contingency planning, because this may indeed become a possibility in the future.”