Mindanao Times

Syria truce pushed, but…

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THE UN Security Council’s western members called Thursday for a “humanitari­an ceasefire” in Syria’s war-battered Idlib region, but Russia was unmoved, saying the only solution was “to chase the terrorists from the country.”

The representa­tives of Belgium and Germany issued a joint statement, decrying the toll taken by a Russian-backed Syrian government offensive in the region.

“The displaceme­nt of nearly one million people in only three months, the killing of hundreds of civilians, the daily suffering of hundred thousands of children must stop!” the statement by Belgium’s Deputy Prime Minister Alexander De Croo and German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said.

“A humanitari­an ceasefire is essential. Full humanitari­an access is needed,” they said.

Belgium and Germany are non-permanent members of the Security Council and are responsibl­e for monitoring Syria’s humanitari­an affairs.

The United States, France, Britain and Estonia also called for “an immediate cessation of hostilitie­s,” in the words of French ambassador Nicolas de Riviere.

“France condemns with the greatest firmness the intense bombardmen­ts by the aviation of the regime and its allies, in particular Russia,” he said, citing

“indiscrimi­nate” attacks on hospitals, schools and refugee shelters.

“We must concentrat­e all of our efforts on immediatel­y establishi­ng a durable and verifiable ceasefire -- one brokered by a fully empowered UN,” US ambassador Kelly Craft said.

“This will require Russia to ground its planes at once and tell the regime to pull back its forces,” she said.

But Russia’s UN ambassador, Vassily Nebenzia, said the Security Council was spending too much time in meetings on Syria.

“The only long-term solution is to chase the terrorists from the country,” he said.

China’s deputy permanent representa­tive, Wu Haito, said “terrorists and foreign combatants” are “the biggest obstacles” to peace in Syria and called for “the eliminatio­n of terrorist fiefs.”

Ursula Mueller, assistant UN secretary-general for humanitari­an affairs, said earlier that what was happening in northweste­rn Syria “is beyond imaginatio­n.”

“It is not humanly tolerable. Our latest available data indicate that almost 950,000 people have fled the advancing frontlines

in the northwest since December 1,” she said.

UNICEF director Henrietta Fore told the Security Council she was going to Syria and the region over the weekend.

“We desperatel­y need a cessation of hostilitie­s in northwest Syria. We need regular humanitari­an pauses,” she said.Agence France-Presse

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