DHAKA: The 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, known by its acronym UNSMIS, 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).
The resolution is a lifeline for the unarmed observers who were sent to Syria three months ago to monitor a ceasefire that never materialised.
The unarmed 300 observers, commanded by Norwegian Major-General Robert Mood, are also tasked with watching over the implementation of Annan`s six-point peace plan, flouted by al-Assad`s government.
The council voted shortly after Russia`s ambassador to France, Alexander Orlov, said he believed Assad was ready to step down "in a civilized way".
The Syrian government immediately denied it, and the Russian foreign ministry said the ambassador`s statements were taken out of context and "wrongly interpreted".
BDST: 0825 HRS, July 21, 2012
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