At this point, it's not really clear that U.N. sanctions against Bashar al-Assad's regime would do anything to quell the violence in Syria, but we'll never find out since Russia and China vetoed the latest Security Council resolution today, the third time they've done so in the 16-month conflict. The resolution (you can find the full text version here) threatened sanctions on the Damascus-fleeing Assad and his regime if government forces didn't stop the attacks and, according to Reuters, "extended a U.N. observer mission in Syria for 45 days." The AP reports that the 300-strong observer mission's mandate will expire on Friday. "The effect of their actions is to protect a brutal regime. They have chosen to put their national interests ahead of the lives of millions of Syrians," Britain's U.N. ambassador Mark Lyall Grant said in the AP's report. As sad as it may seem, we perhaps we should have seen this coming, since this is the third time the country have turned to their veto power. Russia, who remains Syria's biggest ally in the Security Council, put forward its own, less Assad-slamming draft of a resolution which "strongly urges all parties in Syria to cease immediately all armed violence in all its forms," reports CNN. That's a little weak compared to the threat of sanctions, but member nations won't necessarily have to vote for that draft. "The 15-member council still has time to negotiate another resolution on the fate of the unarmed mission before its initial 90-day mandate expires at midnight Friday," reports Reuters.
Update 12:28 p.m. The White House has weighed in on Russia and China's veto. "The White House says they do not support extending the UN mission in Syria after today's failure by the security council to pass a resolution, reports Reuters' Matthew Keys. Meanwhile it appears that Britain has proposed a 30-day extension to the UN mission, reports Reuters' Michelle Nichols.