Russia and China have vetoed a United Nations Security Council resolution that threatened sanctions against Syrian authorities for a third time.
The resolution called for sanctions unless Damascus withdrew troops from towns and cities and stopped using heavy weapons against rebels.
They are two requirements of the six-point UN-brokered Annan peace plan that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad agreed to but that has never really been implemented.
The vetoed resolution would have put that plan under what is known as Chapter 7, a move opening the way to possible military intervention. That is an option Russia – a key Assad ally – strongly opposes.