UN special envoy Kofi Annan on Wednesday asked the Security Council to delay a vote on a new resolution on Syria, as world powers balked at intervening after a bomb blast that rocked Damascus killed several top officials.
Annan has pressed the world body for months to act decisively to end 16-months of bloddletting in Syria as president Bashar al-Assad continues a brutal crackdown on the popular uprising turned civil war that erupted in March 2012.
In Washington, U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said the bombing is evidence that the situation in Syria is “rapidly spinning out of control.” He called on the international community to exert “maximum pressure” on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to step down. The U.S. imposed new financial sanctions on 29 members of the Syrian government Wednesday.
In Moscow, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Moscow cannot approve a UN resolution imposing sanctions on Syria. Russia has produced an alternate resolution that does not include sanctions.
British Foreign Secretary William Hague has condemned the bombing of the National Security headquarters in Damascus on Wednesday morning.
“This incident, which we condemn, confirms the urgent need for a chapter VII resolution of the UN Security Council (UNSC) on Syria," Hague said in an official statement.
Chapter VII of the UN charter has a clause, known as the 'responsibility to protect', and it is the sole argument in international law that would allow for legitimate military intervention in Syria.
UN officials say at least 12,000 people – mostly civilians – have been killed in what has become the most entrenched and violent of the so-called Arab Spring revolts.