Russia and China on Saturday vetoed an Arab League-backed resolution at the United Nations Security Council that called on Syrian President Bashar Assad to step down. India, along with the United States and 12 other nations, backed the move.
France, Britain and Pakistan also voted in favour of the resolution, which is aimed at putting pressure on Syria to end its 11-month-long crackdown on anti-government protests that has killed more than 200 people in one of the bloodiest episodes of the uprising against Assad's regime.
This is the second time that Russia and China have carried out their double veto after the first one on October 5.
Ahead of the vote, US President Barack Obama blamed the Syrian government of "unspeakable assault" on its civilians in the city of Homs and demanded that President
Bashar Assad step down.
"I strongly condemn the Syrian government's unspeakable assault against the people of Homs and I offer my deepest sympathy to those who have lost loved ones," Obama said in Washington.
He said Assad has "no right to lead Syria, and has lost all legitimacy with his people and the international community".
The Human Rights Watch immediately condemned the UNSC resolution, terming the Russian and Chinese decision as irresponsible and praised India, which so far was seen siding with Moscow and Beijing on this issue, for voting in favour of the failed resolution.
"Vetoes by Moscow and Beijing four months ago were irresponsible," it said in a statement.
"Vetoes by Russia and China are not only a slap in the face of the Arab League, they are also a betrayal of the Syrian people," it added.
"In the end, by supporting this resolution, South Africa, India and Pakistan, rose to the occasion. They finally saw through Assad's lies and sided with the Syrian people," the rights watchdog said.
The HRW said the failure of this resolution "should not provide illusory comfort to the Assad government as most countries around the world and in Syria's neighbourhood are repulsed by its bloody repression campaign".
"The Russian government is not only unapologetically arming a government that is killing its own people, but also providing it with diplomatic cover," it alleged.