UNITED NATIONS - The United States declared on Thursday that there is "no viable path forward" in the UN Security Council on Syria because Russia is holding it hostage in an effort to protect the government of Syrian President Bashar Assad.
US Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power's remarks appeared to leave no doubt that Washington would not seek UN approval for a military strike on Syria in response to an Aug. 21 chemical weapon attack near Damascus. She said a draft resolution Britain submitted to the five permanent council members last week calling for a response to that attack was effectively dead.
"I was present in the meeting where the UK laid down the resolution, and everything in that meeting, in word and in body language, suggests that that resolution has no prospect of being adopted, by Russia in particular," she told reporters.
"Our considered view, after months of efforts on chemical weapons and after 2-1/2 years of efforts on Geneva (peace talks), the humanitarian situation, is that there is no viable path forward in this Security Council," she said.
After Britain submitted the draft resolution to fellow Security Council veto powers China, France, Russia and the United States, its parliament voted against British participation in planned US military strikes to punish Syria's government for the chemical attack.
Washington, which is seeking US congressional approval for military action, blames the latest poison gas attack on forces loyal to Assad. The United States says that gas attack killed over 1,400 people, many of them children.
Supporting this view, Britain has new evidence that chemical weapons were used in an attack on the Syrian capital Damascus, according to Prime Minister David Cameron.
Cameron said scientists at Britain's Porton Down military research facility had analyzed samples taken from an alleged gas attack on a rebel-held Damascus neighborhood on August 21 and concluded they had tested positive for the sarin nerve agent.
"We have just been looking at some samples taken from Damascus in the Porton Down laboratory in Britain which further shows the use of chemical weapons in that Damascus suburb," he told BBC TV.
Last week Cameron lost a parliamentary vote backing military action to punish Syrian President Bashar Assad for the reported chemical attack, which Washington says killed more than 1,000 people.
Russia, backed by China, has used its veto power three times to block council resolutions condemning Assad's government and threatening it with sanctions. Assad's government, like Russia, blames the rebels for the Aug. 21 attack.
Earlier this week UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon cast doubt on the legality of any military action against Syria that is not in self-defense or lacks Security Council backing.
But Power said that sometimes it is necessary to go outside the United Nations when the council is at an impasse.
The United States has bypassed the United Nations in the past when the council was deadlocked, such as during the Kosovo war in 1999. At that time, Washington relied on NATO authorization for its bombing campaign, which forced Serbian troops and militia to pull out of Kosovo.