Russians voted off UN panel
UNITED NATIONS — The General Assembly voted Russia off the U.N. Human Rights Council on Friday, a stinging rebuke to the country that is being accused of war crimes over its actions in Syria.
The 193-member General Assembly elected 14 members to 47-nation council, the U.N.’s main body charged with promoting and protecting human rights.
Russia, which received 112 votes, lost its regional seat to Hungary, with 144 votes, and Croatia with 114 votes.
The Obama administration, France and international monitors said Syrian or Russian planes carried out Wednesday’s attack, but Moscow denied conducting air operations in the area.
“If deliberate, this attack may amount to a war crime,” United Nations Secretary- General Ban Kimoon said in a statement.
Secretary of State John Kerry has called for an “appropriate investigation” of whether Russia and Syria have committed war crimes for bombing civilians and medical facilities in the besieged Aleppo.
Russia and Syria claim to be honoring a “humanitarian pause” in Aleppo and other parts of eastern Syria to allow evacuation of the wounded and to deliver medical and food aid.
But Samantha Power, the U.S. ambassador to the U.N., was critical of the Russian effort.
“You don’t get congratulations and get credit for not committing war crimes for a day or a week,” she said Wednesday at the U.N.
On Tuesday, National Intelligence Director James Clapper warned that Russia could shoot down a U.S. warplane with the groundto-air defense system it has built in Syria.
“I wouldn’t put it past them to shoot down an American aircraft if they felt that was threatening to their forces on the ground,” Clapper said at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York.
Gen. Joseph Votel, commander of U.S. forces in the Middle East, has indicated that he is willing to increase military-to-military talks with Russia to prevent a mid-air collision or potential shoot-down.
The Pentagon and Russian military established a hotline after Russia entered the war in 2015.
The two sides speak three times a week on the so- called deconfliction calls, officials said.
Secretary of State John Kerry and U.S. Ambassador to the UN Samantha Power question Russia’s conduct in Syria.