The United Nations Security Council (UNSC) vote calling for a 30-day ceasefire deal in Syria was initially pushed back twice on Friday before ultimately being postponed until Saturday at noon.
Diplomats said they had agreed to delay the vote to allow more time for negotiations after failing to find a consensus after six hours of talks on Friday.
The proposed ceasefire includes a temporary cessation of hostilities to allow much-needed food and medical aid to be delivered, as well as clearing civilians from conflict zones.
The scheduled vote comes amid the Syrian government’s heavy air campaign on the rebel-held enclave of eastern Ghouta, just outside of the capital Damascus. In just the last six days, the Syrian regime’s onslaught has seen more than 460 civilians, including 100 children, killed in the airstrikes.
“I’m extremely frustrated,” said Sweden’s UN Ambassador Olof Skoog. “We were unable to strike a deal that would have improved the suffering that the Syrian people are facing.” Sweden and Kuwait pushed for the vote after the ceasefire resolution languished in the UN Security Council.
Nikki Haley, the US ambassador to the UN, slammed Russia for the delay.
“Unbelievable that Russia is stalling a vote on a ceasefire allowing humanitarian access in Syria,” she tweeted. “How many more people will die before the Security Council agrees to take up this vote? Let’s do this tonight. The Syrian people can’t wait.”
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said on Friday that Russia was in favour of a ceasefire in Syria but wanted certain conditions met before voting for the resolution. As a Security Council member with veto power, Russia could have prevented the resolution from passing.
The Interfax news agency reported that Lavrov had accused the United States and its allies of refusing to change the agreement to include promises from Syrian rebels to abide by the deal.
Another key Russian proposal that was rejected would have ruled out an immediate ceasefire, demanding instead that all parties “stop hostilities as soon as possible” and work towards a “humanitarian pause” for at least 30 days.
Russia had already suggested changes to a previous draft ceasefire on Thursday, which initially forced the Security Council to delay a vote until Friday.
The Syrian government stepped up its shelling of eastern Ghouta, a longtime rebel stronghold, last week, and the world was shocked by the harrowing images coming out of the area, many of them showing dead or wounded children.