Russia under fire as air strikes pound Aleppo
BRITAIN, France and the United States lashed out at Russia over the worsening carnage in Syria as Syrian and Russian warplanes pounded Aleppo in one of the heaviest bombing raids of the five-year war.
US Ambassador Samantha Power accused Russia of “barbarism” during a Security Council emergency meeting on September 25, called to demand that Moscow rein in its ally, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, and halt the intense air strikes.
“Instead of pursuing peace, Russia and Assad make war,” Ms Power said. “What Russia is sponsoring and doing is not counter-terrorism. It is barbarism.”
At least 124 people, mostly civilians, have been killed in the bombardment of rebel-held eastern Aleppo since the army on September 22 announced an operation to take it, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.
“War crimes are being committed,” French Ambassador Francois Delattre said, calling for action to ensure the atrocities do not go unpunished.
Britain’s envoy spoke of “a new hell” unleashed on Syrians with bunker-busting bombs and more sophisticated weaponry used in air strikes pummelling residential areas.
“It is difficult to deny that Russia is partnering with the Syrian regime to carry out war crimes,” said British Ambassador Matthew Rycroft.
UN Secretary General Ban Kimoon warned that the “chilling” escalation making use of advanced weaponry against civilians could amount to war crimes.
Mr Ban called on world powers to “work harder for an end to the nightmare” in Syria that has left more than 300,000 people dead and driven millions from their homes.
To protest the attacks in Aleppo, the US, French and British ambassadors walked out of the Security Council chamber as the Syrian ambassador delivered his remarks.
Russia’s Ambassador Vitaly Churkin conceded that the surge in violence over the past days meant that “bringing a peace is almost an impossible task now”, again laying the blame for the failed diplomacy with the United States.
Residents said cluster bombs rained down on parts of the city, where an estimated 250,000 people are living under a government siege.
At least 19 children were among those killed in the assault, which has included missile strikes, barrel bomb attacks and artillery fire, the Syrian observatory said.
Once Syria’s economic powerhouse, Aleppo has been ravaged by war and roughly divided since mid2012 between government control in the west and rebel control in the east.
Syria’s foreign minister said that his government was confident of “victory” with support from “true friends” including Russia, Iran and Lebanon’s Shiite militant group Hezbollah. –