(File image) American Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Photo: Pablo Martinez Monsivais

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Friday called for a UN resolution on a transition in Syria backed by sanctions, slamming Russia and China for blocking progress on efforts to end the conflict.

“We should go back and ask for a resolution in the Security Council that imposes real and immediate consequences for non-compliance, including sanctions under Chapter 7,” which covers economic measures to military force, she said.

In a scathing attack on Russia and China, Clinton also urged the international community gathered in Paris for a Friends of Syria meeting to pressure both nations to drop their support for President Bashar al-Assad.

And she said the international community as a whole could step up and do more to end the 16-month conflict in Syria in which observers say some 14 500 people have died.

She urged countries to “reach out to Russia and China” to demand that they “get off the sidelines and begin to support the legitimate aspirations of the Syrian people”.

Taking a tough tone, she said it was “not just enough to come to a Friends of Syria meeting because, I will tell you frankly, I do not think Moscow or Beijing believe they are paying any price at all for standing up on behalf of the regime.

“The only way that will change is if every nation represented here directly and urgently makes it clear, that Russia and China will pay a price. They are holding up progress, blockading it. That is no longer tolerable,” Clinton said.

But she praised the progress that had been made, saying there is “a steady, inexorable march towards ending this regime”.

She also condemned countries at the meeting who had agreed to work towards helping the Syrian people, but who were not imposing sanctions, allowing Assad to stay in power.

“What is keeping him afloat, is money from Iran and assistance from Russia and the failure of countries here to tighten and enforce sanctions,” she said.

“You cannot call for transition on the one hand and give the government a free pass on sanctions on the other.”

The US and some individual nations have already imposed sanctions on Syria. But there has been no UN resolution so far on Syria which is backed by a threat of sanctions if the Assad regime fails to comply.

Chapter 7 of the UN charter, which allows for sanctions ranging from economic measures to an arms embargo, and if necessary military force, was last used against Libya last year.

But it could be highly controversial at the UN Security Council, where both Russia and China have the power of veto.

Assad has so far refused to stand down and responded with a fierce military crackdown against the opposition rebels who have been seeking to topple him since March 2011.

But Clinton praised the progress that had been made, saying there is “a steady, inexorable march towards ending this regime”.

“What we need to do is to follow through on what each of us can contribute to the end of the Assad regime and the beginning of a new day for Syria,” she said. – Sapa-AFP