UN Se­cu­rity Coun­cil dis­cusses truce in Syria

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - Worldwide -

UNITED NA­TIONS – The UN Se­cu­rity Coun­cil be­gan ne­go­ti­a­tions on Mon­day on a draft res­o­lu­tion seek­ing an im­me­di­ate truce in Aleppo and call­ing for an end to all mil­i­tary flights over the Syr­ian city, where over a quar­ter mil­lion peo­ple in rebel-held ar­eas are be­sieged by Syr­ian forces.

But Rus­sia im­me­di­ately re­jected any ground­ing of air­craft and ques­tioned whether a res­o­lu­tion at this time would ac­tu­ally pro­duce any re­sults.

The res­o­lu­tion drafted by France and Spain threat­ens “fur­ther mea­sures” — diplo­matic code for sanc­tions — should any party fail to com­ply with the truce, and it asks for a new UN-su­per­vised truce mon­i­tor.

“We con­sider that this is our re­spon­si­bil­ity to do ab­so­lutely ev­ery­thing we can do, ev­ery­thing hu­manly pos­si­ble to unite the Se­cu­rity Coun­cil be­hind our ef­forts to end the mar­tyr­dom in Aleppo,” France’s UN Am­bas­sador Fran­cois De­lat­tre said be­fore Mon­day’s meet­ing.

Rus­sia in­ter­vened on be­half of its close ally Syria on Septem­ber 30 last year, join­ing Pres­i­dent Bashar As­sad’s bom­bard­ment of both anti-gov­ern­ment rebel groups and mil­i­tant groups such as the Is­lamic State and the Fatah al-Sham Front, an al-Qaeda spinoff for­merly known as the Nusra Front. With Rus­sia’s back­ing, Syr­ian forces have en­cir­cled the east­ern half of Aleppo where con­tin­ued at­tacks have re­peat­edly dam­aged med­i­cal fa­cil­i­ties in vi­o­la­tion o f in­ter­na­tional law.

Rus­sia’s UN Am­bas­sador Vi­taly Churkin, whose coun­try holds the ro­tat­ing Se­cu­rity Coun­cil pres­i­dency this month, de­fended Rus­sia’s mil­i­tary ac­tions in Syria in the wake of bomb­ings of hos­pi­tals and an aid con­voy, say­ing Rus­sia never de­lib­er­ately tar­geted civil­ians.

“Had it not been for our in­volve­ment in Syria it might well be that the black flags will be fly­ing over Da­m­as­cus — it could well be,” Churkin said, re­fer­ring to the flag of the Is­lamic State group.

Churkin said his coun­try had con­cerns about the French res­o­lu­tion’s work­a­bil­ity.

Rebel-held east­ern Aleppo “has been taken hostage by Nusra and some oth­ers who are work­ing with Nusra,” he said.

“The pri­mary goal of Rus­sia in that part of the world, in Syria and Iraq, is to throw out the ter­ror­ists. As long as the ter­ror­ists are there, there will be no peace and quiet for the civil­ians, in east­ern Aleppo or any­where else.”

Churkin said Rus­sia is “a lit­tle bit baf­fled” that France called for a new mon­i­tor­ing mech­a­nism for the cease­fire when there is al­ready one in Geneva “which has been there for a long time and frankly has not been used very ef­fec­tively”.

Rus­sia, which is one of five veto-hold­ing per­ma­nent mem­bers of the Se­cu­rity Coun­cil, has blocked a num­ber of res­o­lu­tions on Syria.

Churkin told a news con­fer­ence that France said it wants united coun­cil sup­port and doesn’t want to see a Rus­sian veto.

“If they were sin­cere, we can have a res­o­lu­tion, I sup­pose, which would be more bal­anced,” Churkin said, but he said he wasn’t sure that many coun­cil mem­bers would like to see a res­o­lu­tion “that has no chance of work­ing”.

Hu­man Rights Watch called on the Se­cu­rity Coun­cil to de­mand that Syria and Rus­sia im­me­di­ately halt at­tacks in east­ern Aleppo and en­sure the de­liv­ery of hu­man­i­tar­ian aid to the sev­eral hun­dred thou­sand peo­ple trapped there.

“The Se­cu­rity Coun­cil should im­me­di­ately adopt a res­o­lu­tion de­mand­ing an end to the slaugh­ter. And Rus­sia, it­self in­volved in the bomb­ing, should re­frain from us­ing its veto or risk fur­ther sul­ly­ing its record as a per­ma­nent mem­ber of the coun­cil,” Louis Char­bon­neau, UN di­rec­tor at Hu­man Rights Watch, said in a state­ment. — AP.

Fran­cois De­lat­tre

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