Syria instead blamed the United States and France for trying to manipulate the security council and underlined it had taken no action in the face of the deadly Israeli offensive against the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip.

Capping days of diplomatic haggling, the 15-member council agreed on a statement calling on Damascus to comply with a previous resolution pushed through the council in September, which demanded the military pullout.

The United States and France battled to get the statement adopted despite strong opposition on the council.

The statement calls on UN Secretary General Kofi Annan to report to the council every six months on the implementation of the resolution, which also demands the disarming of militant groups in Lebanon such as the Hezbollah.

“We all know that the resolution would not be implemented overnight,” French Ambassador Jean-Marc de La Sabliere told reporters. “We will now look forward to the next report when it comes six months from now.”

Syria is believed to have around 16,000 troops on the ground in Lebanon, the remains of a much larger force sent in during Lebanon’s 1975-1990 civil war.

Both Beirut and Damascus insist the troops are there by mutual agreement.

Syrian Foreign Minister Faruq al-Shara, speaking in Brussels, described the resolution as the “illegal intervention” in his country’s relations with Lebanon, and said it set a “dangerous precedent of interference” in the internal affairs of a member state.

At the United Nations, Syrian Ambassador Fayssal Mekdad said there was nothing in the relationship with Damascus that “threatened world peace and security,” using the language of the UN Charter on the Security Council’s mandate.

“Syria is very much committed to continue helping the Lebanese brotherly people until a final agreement is reached, as requested by the Lebanese Government, vis-a-vis the Syrian presence in Lebanon,” he said.