UNITED NATIONS - Russia blocked a UN Security Council statement on Wednesday that would have expressed outrage at deadly airstrikes by Syrian President Bashar Assad's forces and condemned the use of missiles and "barrel bombs" in towns, UN diplomats said.

Russia, a staunch Assad ally, opposed a similar statement on Dec. 19 that would have condemned attacks by Syrian government troops on civilians. Russia, joined by China, has also vetoed three Security Council resolutions that would have condemned Assad's government and threatened it with sanctions.

The council could not reach agreement on Wednesday because amendments proposed by Russia were "clearly designed to rob the statement of any reference to what has happened in Aleppo," said a UN diplomat, speaking on condition of anonymity.

A spokesman for the Russian mission declined to comment.

The British-drafted statement would have had the council express outrage at daily airstrikes by the Syrian government in the northern city of Aleppo where it said more than 700 people have been killed and 3,000 injured since Dec. 15.

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