Russia and China vetoed a Western-backed UN Security Council resolution on Thursday that threatened Syrian authorities with sanctions if they did not stop using heavy weapons against an uprising and withdraw troops from towns and cities.

It was the third time that Russia, a key ally of the Syrian government, and China have used their veto power to block UN Security Council resolutions designed to put pressure on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and halt the violence in the 16-month conflict that has killed thousands of people.

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