The U.N. Security Council has reportedly delayed a vote on a new Syria resolution in the wake of a bombing in the Syrian capital, Damascus, that killed at least three members of the defense leadership.
Special envoy Kofi Annan reportedly asked the Security Council to delay the vote, which had been scheduled for Wednesday.
Washington and its allies want to impose U.N. sanctions on Syrian President Bashar Assad for refusing to implement Annan's six-point peace plan. But the proposal has run into resistance from Russia, a key Assad ally and a veto-wielding member of the Security Council.
Moscow has used its veto twice to block a resolution seeking to punish Assad.
On Wednesday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov reiterated Russia’s opposition to additional international sanctions against Syria.
To adopt this resolution against the backdrop of the increasing violence in that country “will be a direct support of some revolutionary movement,” Lavrov told journalists in Moscow. “Instead of calming down the opposition, some of our partners are inciting it to continue [the confrontation].”
U.S. Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta disagreed, saying in Washington that the bombing showed that the bloodshed in Syria was “rapidly spinning out of control,” the Associated Press reported. Panetta said it was time for the international community to bring “maximum pressure” on Assad to step down and permit a stable transfer of power.
Also Wednesday, British Foreign Secretary William Hague called on all parties to refrain from violence and for the Security Council to shoulder its responsibilities.
“This incident, which we condemn, confirms the urgent need for a Chapter 7 resolution of the U.N. Security Council on Syria.
“The situation in Syria is clearly deteriorating. All the members of the U.N. Security Council have a responsibility to put their weight behind the enforcement of Joint Special Envoy Kofi Annan's plan to end the violence.
Wednesday's bombing killed three prominent members of Syria's defense establishment, Syrian television and the state news agency reported. They were identified as: Defense Minister Dawoud Rajhaj; Gen. Asef Shawkat, the deputy defense minister and Assad's brother-in-law; and Hassan Turkmani, a former defense minister.
-- Kari Howard in Los Angeles and Sergei L. Loiko in Moscow
Photo: Russian President Vladimir Putin, right, and United Nations special envoy Kofi Annan before their talks in Moscow on Tuesday. Credit: Alexander Zemlianichenko / Associated Press