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UN council extends Syria observer mission

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The mission was deployed as part of Arab-League envoy Kofi Annan's peace plan to end the 16-month conflictThe Security Council has unanimously voted to extend the UN monitoring mission in Syria for a further 30 days, a day after a resolution that sought to impose sanctions on President Bashar al-Assad's regime was vetoed by China and Russia.

The council envoys had debated competing resolutions aimed at extending the mission in Syria on Friday, with Russia threatening to veto a British proposal on the extension while a rival measure by Pakistan lacked clear support.

The UN mission was deployed as part of UN-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan's peace plan to end the 16-month conflict that has killed thousands.

Its mandate was to expire at midnight on Friday (0400 GMT on Saturday).

Russia and China on Thursday vetoed a Western-backed resolution that would have extended the mandate.

The two countries, both Syria's allies, said they could not accept the resolution's call for sanctions against al-Assad's government if it fails to rein in its campaign against a widening rebellion.

Susan Rice, the US ambassador to the UN, had said on Thursday that Washington would "probably" support the British resolution and described the Pakistani resolution as a simple technical rollover.

"We have been clear, we are not supporting a technical rollover," she told reporters.

Li Baodong, China's UN ambassador, said Beijing supported Pakistan's proposal for a technical rollover of the mission for 45 days, which Russia also said it would support.

Russia and China have so far vetoed three different resolutions designed to pressure Assad and halt the 16-month
conflict that has killed thousands.


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