UN Security Council weighs measure to impose Syria truce

Russia says it will not support resolution drafted by France and circulated over weekend, calls it ‘politicized’

Syrian regime forces gather at the Kindi Hospital in Aleppo on October 2, 2016. (George Ourfalian/AFP)
Syrian regime forces gather at the Kindi Hospital in Aleppo on October 2, 2016. (George Ourfalian/AFP)

UNITED NATIONS (AFP) — The UN Security Council on Monday was considering a draft resolution imposing a ceasefire in Syria’s war-battered city of Aleppo but Russia dismissed the measure as a political ploy.

The proposal drafted by France was the latest bid to pile pressure on Russia and its Syrian ally to halt the air campaign in Aleppo, which has triggered global outrage, in particular over the bombing of hospitals.

Russia signaled it would not back the proposed resolution which was circulated to the Security Council at the weekend.

“We as a matter of principle do not support such politicized steps aimed at using the Security Council to apply more pressure to Syria and Russia,” Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov was quoted as saying by Russian news agencies in Moscow.

Diplomats said a vote could take place this week.

The draft resolution is aimed at giving new impetus to US-Russian efforts to cooperate in ending the five-year war in Syria that has killed 300,000 people and driven 12 million people from their homes — half of the country’s population.

Aleppo has been under a near-daily barrage of air strikes since the Syrian army announced an offensive to retake the rebel-held east of the city on September 22.

French Ambassador Francois Delattre told AFP that “it’s our responsibility to do everything humanly possible” to try to unite the council behind an effort “to end the martyrdom of Aleppo.”

Under the draft text obtained by AFP, the council would threaten to take “further measures” if the sides fail to comply, but it does not invoke chapter 7 of the UN charter, which allows for sanctions and the use of military force.

Expressing “outrage over the unacceptable and escalating level of violence,” the draft resolution calls on all parties to immediately implement a ceasefire, allow humanitarian aid and ground all warplanes over Aleppo.

The measure co-sponsored by Spain would call on UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to present options within five days of the adoption to set up a monitoring mechanism of the ceasefire with help from the 23 countries backing Syria’s peace process.

Syrian regime forces gather at the Kindi Hospital in Aleppo on October 2, 2016. (George Ourfalian/AFP)
Syrian regime forces gather at the Kindi Hospital in Aleppo on October 2, 2016. (George Ourfalian/AFP)

Ending bombardments

The draft “demands that all parties to the Syrian conflict, in particular the Syrian authorities, immediately comply with their obligations” under international law.

All parties must “implement and ensure full implementation of the cessation of hostilities … including an end to all aerial bombardments,” the draft resolution said.

Under the proposal, the council would take note of the US-Russian ceasefire deal and welcome the intention of the two countries “to undertake joint efforts to stabilize the situation in Syria, with special measures for the Aleppo region.”

It urges Russia and the United States to “ensure the immediate implementation of the cessation of hostilities, starting with Aleppo, and to that effect, to put an end to all military flights over the city.”

The proposed measure also refers to a UN probe of chemical weapons attacks in Syria and asserts that those responsible for the use of toxic gases “shall be held accountable.”

France distributed the text to the 10 non-permanent members of the council following talks on Friday with Russia, the United States, Britain and China, the veto-wielding members.

The idea is “not to push Russia to impose a veto but to try to overcome the impasse of mutual accusations” between Moscow and Washington for the collapse of the ceasefire, said a diplomat, who asked not to be named.

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