The Syrian regime is in its last days, the head of the main exiled opposition group said, warning that a veto by Russia and China at the United Nations could have "disastrous" consequences.
"The regime is in its final days," Syrian National Council chief Abdel Basset Sayda said following talks in Rome with Italian Foreign Minister Giulio Terzi shortly after the veto at the UN Security Council in New York.
Sayda said the UN system was "outdated" with a set of rules dating back to World War II "that do not reflect the needs of our times".
"We cannot allow an illegitimate regime to massacre its people," he said.
The resolution would have threatened Syria with sanctions and Russia accused Western nations of preparing military intervention, while Washington said it would now work outside the council to confront President Bashar al-Assad.
"We must break this vicious circle and ask the Friends of Syria, which includes 100 countries and has international legitimacy, to step in and speak to the regime with a unanimous voice," Sayda said.
"Russia is providing heavy weapons to the Syrian regime and Russia is continuing to give political cover to the Syrian regime through the Security Council," he added.
"This cannot continue, otherwise things will spiral out of our control and the consequences will be disastrous both for Syria and for the region as a whole."
Terzi spoke of a "highly dramatic" situation and warned of "an extremely grave humanitarian emergency in the country," saying there were an estimated two million internally displaced people in Syria.