Pakistani ambassador at UN Security Council meeting calls suicide attack on Syrian leadership "condemnable," says Pakistan abstained from today's vote on resolution.
"We strongly condemn this mindless and cowardly act of terrorism," India ambassador to UNSC says on Wednesday's suicide attack.
Russian ambassador: UN Security Council resolution "stood no chance of being adopted."
REBELS ATTACK DAMASCUS POLICE HQ - WITNESS
Rebels attacked the main police headquarters in Damascus on Thursday, a witness said, a day after the assassination of three of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's top lieutenants.
"Gunfire has been intense for the past hour. It is now dying down but the streets around the police command remain empty," a resident of Qanawat, an old central district where the Damascus Province Police Headquarters is located, told Reuters by phone.
(Reporting by Khaled Yacoub Oweis, Amman newsroom; Editing by Alison Williams)
Update: Syrian state television shows footage of President Bashar al-Assad swearing in new defense minister.
U.S. Ambassador Rice: Resolution would not have paved the way for foreign military intervention.
U.S. Ambassador Rice: The Security Council has failed utterly in its most important task on the agenda this year.
20,000 SYRIANS CROSS INTO LEBANON AFTER VIOLENCE
About 20,000 Syrians have travelled across the main border crossing into Lebanon over the past 24 hours, a Lebanese security source working at the border said, after heavy fighting tore through several districts of Damascus.
The number of Syrians who travel through the official Masnaa border crossing usually hovers around 5,000 per day, the source said.
FLASH: UK FOREIGN SEC HAGUE: RUSSIAN AND CHINESE VETO OF UN SECURITY COUNCIL RESOLUTION ON SYRIA "INEXCUSABLE AND INDEFENSIBLE"
Update: White House calls Russia and China veto of Syria UN resolution regrettable and highly unfortunate. White House says those who voted against UN resolution are on the wrong side of the Syrian people and the wrong side of peace and stability in the region.
HAGUE: RUSSIAN, CHINESE VETO ON SYRIA "INEXCUSABLE"
British Foreign Secretary William Hague attacked the vetos of Russia and China of a United Nations Security Council resolution on Syria as "inexcusable" on Thursday.
"The decision by Russia and China, in the view of the United Kingdom, to veto this resolution is inexcusable and indefensible," he told reporters in London. "When it came for the time to turn agreement that they have supported into action to end the violence they stood aside from that ... They have turned their back on the people of Syria in their darkest hour."
Hague added: "I believe Russia and China will pay a serious price in the Middle East diplomatically and politcally for taking this position. Many observers will conclude that they have put national interest ahead of the lives and the rights of millions of Syrians."
(Reporting by Stephen Addison Editing by Maria Golovnina)
White House: US has made it clear to the Syrian government that it will be held accountable if it uses chemical weapons against the opposition.
Update: Kofi Annan says in a statement he is disappointed at lack of U.N. Security Council unity on Syria "at this critical stage" and failed to take strong and certed action he hoped for.
Syrian rebels try to seize key Turkey border crossing
By Suleiman Al-Khalidi
CILVEGOZU, Turkey, July 19 (Reuters) - Rebel fighters raided a Syrian army outpost at a key border crossing with Turkey on Thursday in an attempt to seize control of the gate, but were forced to withdraw after coming under attack by military helicopters, a rebel spokesman said.
The dawn attack was the third time in 10 days rebels have tried to seize the Bab al-Hawa gate, a vital commercial crossing in northwestern Syria, opposite the Turkish Cilvegozu gate in Hatay province.
A Reuters reporter on the Turkish side of the border crossing said he could still hear intermittent gunfire on Thursday evening coming from the Syrian side and black smoke rising into the air 2-3 km (miles) from the border.
Ahmad Zaidan, spokesman for an opposition group called the Higher Council of the Revolution's Leadership, said rebels were in charge of large areas around the border crossing and that they wanted to gain control of the gate itself.
He said the raid was also meant to provide an opportunity for opposition sympathisers among the government soldiers to defect. Most defections, he said, were pre-planned whereby sympathisers would know of an impending rebel attack.
"We withdrew because we didn't have enough anti-aircraft missiles, and to preserve the lives of those sympathetic soldiers who weren't able to defect," Zaidan told Reuters by telephone from Hatay.
The rebels attacked the army garrison made up of some 200 troops but had to pull back when government helicopters were called in. The rebels had planned for 80 soldiers to defect but only 14 managed to escape, Zaidan said.
The border crossing, which is still under the control of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's forces, has been closed since the attack and around 40 Syrian and Saudi trucks lined up on the Turkish side were unable to cross.
While cross-border trade and traffic has been greatly reduced as violence inside Syria has increased, border gates along the 910 km (560 mile) Turkey-Syria border have largely remained open and vehicles are free to cross.
The border raid came as rebels clashed with troops loyal to Assad in Damascus and a day after a bomb attack on a security meeting in the Syrian capital killed three of the president's closest allies. (Full Story)
Turkey, which has called on Assad to step down, is giving sanctuary to opposition members and fighters on its soil and is providing shelter to more than 40,000 Syrian refugees fleeing violence at home.
(Writing by Jonathon Burch; Editing by Alison Williams)
Britain proposes 30 days extension to UN Syria mission-diplomats
UNITED NATIONS, July 19 (Reuters) - Britain has drafted a new resolution to extend a U.N. mission in Syria "for a final period of 30 days" and it could be voted on later on Thursday, diplomats said.
The four-paragraph resolution would simply roll over the mission of 300 unarmed military observers and some 100 civilian staff, the diplomats, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said.
(Reporting by Michelle Nichols; Editing by Jackie Frank)
The White House says they do not support extending the UN mission in Syria after today's failure by the security council to pass a resolution.
ANNAN DEPLORES LACK OF UNITY ON SYRIA, HOPED FOR STRONG ACTION
GENEVA, July 19 (Reuters) - International mediator Kofi Annan voiced disappointment on Thursday at the failure of world powers to reach a common position on Syria after China and Russia vetoed a Western resolution threatening Syrian authorities with sanctions.
"The Joint Special Envoy for Syria, Kofi Annan, is disappointed that at this critical stage the UN Security Council could not unite and take the strong and concerted action he had urged and hoped for. He believes that the voice of the Council is much more powerful when its Members act as one," his spokesman Ahmad Fawzi said in a statement issued in Geneva.
(Reporting by Stephanie Nebehay and Tom Miles)
Syrian army shells mosque, killing 7 - activists
AMMAN, July 19 (Reuters) - At least seven civilians were killed on Thursday when the Syrian army shelled a mosque packed with worshippers in the city of Deir al-Zor, scene of heavy fighting between troops and rebels, activists said.
"Shells hit the Fardos mosque in al-Jubeileh neighbourhood at evening prayers, the last before Ramadan. The mosque was packed. Around 20 people were pulled from the rubble with missing limbs and bad wounds.
The number of dead will likely rise," Abu al-Tayeb al-Deiri, one of the activists, told Reuters from the desert city 430 km (270 miles) northeast of Damascus.
Syrian authorities have banned most independent media from the country, making independent verification of events on the ground difficult.
(Reporting by Khaled Yacoub Oweis, Amman newsroom; editing by Andrew Roche)
FLASH: SYRIA'S BORDER CROSSING WITH TURKEY AT TOWN OF JARABLUS FALLS INTO REBEL HANDS AFTER ASSAD'S FORCES ABANDON TOWN - OPPOSITION ACTIVISTS
SYRIAN REBELS SEIZE IRAQ BORDER GATE - OPPOSITION
BEIRUT, July 19 (Reuters) - Syrian rebels took control of the main Abu Kamal border gate with Iraq on Thursday, opposition activists said, on the same day opponents to President Bashar al-Assad overran a border crossing with Turkey.
Rami Abdelrahman, head of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, said rebel fighters told him they had clashed with government troops on Thursday morning before seizing the border gate on the eastern frontier, along the Euphrates river.
250 PEOPLE KILLED IN SYRIA IN HIGHEST DEATH TOLL - OPPOSITION
BEIRUT, July 19 (Reuters)- More than 250 people were killed in Syria on Thursday, an opposition monitoring group said, the highest death toll in a single day since the revolt against President Bashar al-Assad erupted 16 months ago.
The British-based Syrian Observatory for Human rights said 155 civilians, including 44 people in Damascus where pitched battles have raged for five days, and 93 security forces personnel were killed.
It said it was still gathering information on the number of rebel fighters who had been killed from sources on the ground and expected the overage death toll to rise significantly.
IRAQ CLOSES MAIN BORDER CROSSING WITH SYRIA - MAYOR
BAGHDAD, July 19 (Reuters) - Iraq has closed its main border post with Syria and sent troops to the frontier after Syrian rebels took control of the Abu Kamal crossing, a local mayor said on Thursday.
"Qaim post, opposite Abu Kamal, is closed and now under the control of the Iraqi army," the mayor of Qaim, Fahan Fitaihan, said. Iraqi troops had also taken over another nearby post from Iraqi customs officials, he said.
He said the Syrian Free Army had raised its flag on the other side of the border.
(Reporting by Raheem Salman; Writing by Sylvia Westall; Editing by Alison Williams)
U.N. Security Council approves 30-day extension for Syria monitors
Russia, which with China vetoed an earlier resolution which would have opened the door to sanctions on the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, dropped its objections to the British proposal after it was broadened to require both government forces and rebel fighters to take steps to halt the violence.
The new resolution states that the council would only consider further extensions to the mission "in the event that the Secretary-General reports and the Security Council confirms the cessation of the use of heavy weapons and a reduction in the level of violence sufficient by all sides" to allow the UNSMIS monitors to implement their mandate.
Both the United States and Britain described the new resolution as a last chance for the observers.
"If over the next 30 days there is a change in that dynamic and those conditions are met then of course the Security Council, on a recommendation by the Secretary-General, will look again at the future of UNSMIS," Britain's U.N. Ambassador Mark Lyall Grant told reporters.
"But if the situation does not change then obviously UNSMIS will be withdrawn after 30 days," he said.
AN EXIT PLAN?
The U.N. Syria mission has up to 300 unarmed military observers whose role has been to monitor a failed April 12 ceasefire in Syria. Most of their monitoring activity was suspended on June 16 due to increased risk from rising violence.
There are also some 100 civilian staff working toward a political solution and monitoring issues like human rights.
The U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, Susan Rice, told reporters that Washington had reluctantly acceded to the new resolution, but described it simply as an exit plan for the monitoring teams.
"Today's vote to extend UNSMIS for a final period of 30 days was not the resolution the United States had hoped to adopt in the first instance. Our strong preference was to adopt the resolution that was regrettably vetoed yesterday," Rice said.
Rice said the extension would "allow (UNSMIS) to withdraw safely and in an orderly fashion."
Rice said she was skeptical that the Syrian authorities would stop using heavy weapons and the violence would subside enough for the council to consider a renewal of the mission beyond the 30-day extension.
The Security Council vote ended several hectic days of U.N. diplomacy where the United States and its allies faced off against Russia and China over the way forward on Syria as violence in the country escalated.
Syrian government forces fought to recapture border posts and parts of Damascus from rebels on Friday, seeking to take back the initiative following a bomb attack this week which killed four of Assad's top security aides.
U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon has recommended shifting the emphasis of the work of UNSMIS from monitoring the nonexistent ceasefire to pursuing a political solution to the crisis.
Diplomats said only half of the 300 unarmed observers would be needed for Ban's suggested shift in focus. The others would return to their home countries, but be ready to redeploy again at short notice.
(Reporting by Michelle Nichols; Writing by Andrew Quinn; Editing by Jackie Frank)