U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton says the U.N. Security Council has failed in its responsibility to the Syrian people by not passing a resolution condemning the regime's brutal crackdown on civilian protesters.
Clinton said Wednesday those who blocked the vote - China and Russia - would have to explain their vetoes "to the Syrian people."
Moscow and Beijing blocked a resolution Tuesday written by France, Britain, Germany and Portugal, sparking U.S. and European outrage.
Instead, a watered-down measure merely had references to sanctions against Syria if Damascus continues with its military crackdown on pro-reformists, Voice of America reports.
Earlier Wednesday, French Foreign Minister Alain Juppé angrily denounced Syrian President Bashar al-Assad as a "dictator who is massacring his people" and vowed support for Syrians attempting to overthrow the authoritarian leader.
U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon said the international community has a "moral obligation" to prevent further bloodshed in Syria, while Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said his government will impose its own sanctions on Damascus.
But an aide to the Syrian president told the French news agency that Russia and China stood "with the Syrian people" and provided the time needed for the government to "enforce and enhance reforms."
Syria has been using military force to crush opposition protests for the past seven months against Assad's 11-year autocratic rule in which at least 2,700 people have been killed.
Turkey has provided refuge for several Syrian dissidents.
A double veto at the United Nations is rare, the New York Times says, saying it was due to shared concerns in Moscow and Beijing about losing influence in the Arab world.
“They are gambling that Assad can hold on now; it seems to be an expression of confidence that he can cling to power,” said Fiona Hill, a Russia expert at the Brookings Institution, NYT reports.
China is concerned the Syrian uprising will inspire dissidents at home, while Russia stands to lose military and commercial deals with Syria worth billions of dollars annually, NYT reports.