China and Russia have consistently blocked resolutions at the UN to sanction the Syrian regime.
France has been one of Washington’s closest allies in urging military action in response to an Aug. 21 chemical attack on the outskirts of Damascus blamed by Washington and others on the Syrian regime.
The British parliament has voted against participating in any military action against al-Assad.
Fighting on the ground in Syria has continued unabated, with rebel and regime forces engaged in a fierce battle for control of the Christian town of Maalula, near Damascus.
Washington and Moscow hope to secure a political transition to end the conflict that began in March 2011. Both countries now agree Syria possesses about 1,000 tonnes of various chemical agents, including mustard and sarin gas, sulphur and VX.
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has accused al-Assad of crimes against humanity and said a UN inspectors’ report due to be published today would give “overwhelming” confirmation that chemical weapons were used on Aug. 21.