UNITED NATIONS — Russia and China have again vetoed a Western-backed U.N. resolution threatening non-military sanctions against Syria. It was aimed at stepping up pressure on President Bashar Assad’s government to end the escalating 16-month conflict.

Today’s 11-2 vote, with two abstentions, leaves in limbo the future of the 300-strong U.N. peacekeeping force in Syria, whose mandate expires Friday.

Britain’s U.N. Ambassador Mark Lyall Grant, who sponsored the Western-backed draft, said he was “appalled” at the third double veto by Russia and China, allies of the Assad regime.

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