The UN Security Council delayed a vote on a Western-drafted resolution calling for sanctions against Damascus until Thursday following a request from international envoy Kofi Annan, diplomats said in a last attempt to get Western nations and Russia to agree on measures to halt the violence in Syria.
International envoy Kofi Annan called on the council to postpone Wednesday’s scheduled vote after a bombing rocked Syria’s capital killing four top regime members, including Assad’s borther-in-law and the defense minister.
The Security Council is deeply divided as a draft resolution supported by key Western powers would impose non-military sanctions against Assad’s regime if it fails to withdraw troops and heavy weapons from areas in the country within 10 days , a key demand of the Annan plan while Russia calls for the “immediate implementation” of Annan’s plan and for a political transition approved earlier at the Geneva meeting, but excludes sanctions against Assad.
Russia and China, have blocked two previous resolutions until now calling for sanctions.
Ambassadors from the five veto-wielding permanent council nations , the U.S., Russia, China, Britain and France , met behind closed doors Wednesday morning to discuss Annan’s request. Russia’s U.N. Ambassador Vitaly Churkin told reporters afterwards that the vote had been postponed by a day, AP reported.
The mandate of the UN Supervision Mission in Syria, or UNSMIS, expires on Friday and without a resolution the UN may have to withdraw the nearly 300 unarmed observers currently in Damascus.
More than 17,000 people have been killed since a popular uprising against Assad began 16 months ago, activists say.