Deep divide in UN over Syrian conflict

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UNITED NATIONS: Deep divisions among five permanent members of the UN Security Council over the proposals to end the Syrian conflict, have resulted in the killing of two opposing resolutions on Saturday calling to halt hostilities in Aleppo.

The Russian Ambassador Vitaly Churkin who holds the presidency of the 15-member UNSC said on Saturday “today we are participating in one of the most bizarre scenes in the history of the UN Security Council. We will vote on the two draft Council resolutions, and we are all well aware that neither of them will be accepted.”

The votes reflects the deep divide in the UN’s most powerful body which is charged with ensuring international peace and security but has totally failed to take action to end the more than five-year Syrian conflict which has killed over 300,000 people and displaced millions.

The French-backed resolution received 11 “yes” votes, two “no” votes from Russia and Venezuela, and abstentions from China and Angola. The Russian resolution received four “yes” votes, nine “no” votes, and two abstentions.

It was the fifth veto by Russia of a Western-backed resolution aimed at ending the Syrian conflict. When Syria’s UN Ambassador Bashar Ja’afari started speaking after the votes, a number of ambassadors walked out, including the representatives of Britain, France, Ukraine and the United States.

French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault, who addressed the session before the vote on the French resolution, warned that the continued bombing of Aleppo was killing civilians and destroying hospitals and schools — “and has nothing to do with combating terrorism,” as Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s government maintained. He urged all sides to restart the Syria peace process, which he said had been “jeopardised” by the radical groups. The French proposal implied “upgraded” coordination of monitoring of the situation in Syria and reactivating the cessation of hostilities in Aleppo. One of the key points of the proposal was a halt to Syrian and Russian bombardment of East Aleppo.

However, Moscow and Damascus repeatedly stressed they are targeting terrorist hideouts there, which have been jeopardising the cessation of hostilities.

The French proposal also included a call for all sides to prevent any material and financial resources reaching individuals or groups “associated with Al-Qaeda and IS.” In addition, the French urged greater access for humanitarian aid deliveries across Syria.

French proposal for a flight ban over Syria was rejected by Russia saying “the prohibition of flights over Aleppo provides cover to terrorists from Jabhat al-Nusra” and those militants who allied with them” the Russian Foreign Ministry stated.

Commenting on the Russian resolution at the Security Council, the US representative stated that Moscow can’t justify its strikes in Aleppo with “a few hundred” al-Nusra terrorists there.

The Russian draft also strongly backed calls by the UN envoy to Syria Staffan de Mistura to allow safe exit for Al Nusra terrorists in order to bring relief to Aleppo. On Thursday de Mistura said he is willing to personally escort them out. “If you [Al-Nusra] did decide to leave, in dignity with your weapons, to Idlib or anywhere you wanted to go, I personally am ready, physically ready, to accompany you,” he said. De Mistura warned that East Aleppo might be destroyed within two months if the military action in the city continues.

 

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