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Saturday, October 8, 2016

UNSC vetoes rival resolutions on Syria sponsored by Russia and France

UNSC vetoes rival resolutions on Syria sponsored by Russia and France
Published time: 8 Oct, 2016 19:07Edited time: 8 Oct, 2016 21:03
© Andrew Kelly
© Andrew Kelly / Reuters
The UN Security Council (UNSC) has vetoed two rival resolutions proposed by Russia and France on the escalating situation in Syria and the war-torn city of Aleppo in particular.
In his statement, the Russian envoy to the UN, Vitaly Churkin, said that all of the members of the UNSC understood from the beginning that both draft resolutions would not go through.
"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," Churkin said.
The official urged all sides to restart the Syria peace process, which he said had been “jeopardized” 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 jeopardizing 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 [Islamic State].” In addition, the French urged greater access for humanitarian aid deliveries across Syria.
Moscow: Halt to strikes gives terrorists ‘cover’
The Russian Foreign Ministry said that the French-sponsored resolution “distorted” the real situation in Syria after the US refused to stick to the agreement on settling the crisis. 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.
Moscow is nevertheless ready to work together on fulfilling the agreements reached earlier on resolving the deadlock in Syria, the Foreign Ministry added.
Russia for its part submitted to the UNSC a counter-resolution on Syria. According to the document, Moscow called for an immediate halt to the violence in war-ravaged Aleppo, but not for a halt to anti-terrorist strikes in the city. Monitoring should be then evaluated by the International Syrian Support Group (ISSG), the document said.
One of the key elements of the proposal was an urgent need for a separation of moderate rebels from terrorist groups like Al-Nusra in Aleppo, as agreed between Moscow and Washington in Geneva on September 9.
Commenting on the Russian resolution at the UNSC, the US representative stated that Moscow can’t justify its strikes in Aleppo with “a few hundred” al-Nusra terrorists there.
Howver according to the latest estimations by the UN between six and eight thousand militants are currently holding the eastern part of Aleppo, with nearly a half estimated to belong or act together with the al-Nusra terrorists.
Russian draft also strongly backed calls by the UN envoy to Syria Staffan de Mistura to allow safe exit for 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.
Russia and the Syrian government have come under intense criticism from the US in recent days over the strikes in Aleppo. On Friday, US Secretary of State John Kerry said that the Russian and Syrian governments' actions in Syria "beg for an appropriate investigation of war crimes." He alleged that Moscow and Damascus have been “hitting hospitals, medical facilities,” in the war-ravaged country.
Russia and Syria have denied any wrongdoing, with Moscow insisting that any peace plan for Syria and Aleppo in particular will not bear fruit until the US-backed rebels clearly distance themselves from Al-Nusra. On Friday, Russian Deputy Defense Minister Anatoly Antonov said that the US had consistently failed to deliver on its promises to do so. "It has led to problems in identifying specific violators of the ceasefire,” Antonov said.
During the UNSC session, Churkin “regretted” that New Zealand’s push for a document combining Russian and French proposals has not been given any consideration in the Council.
"We know that New Zealand tried to work out a draft resolution that would [be] in the middle of the two approaches presented today. We regret that some influential members of the Council did not allow to set your project going,” he said.

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