Russia vetoes UN bid to end bombing of Aleppo

Russia's ambassador to the United Nations, Mr Vitaly Churkin, raising his hand to veto a resolution in the Security Council demanding an end to the bombing of Aleppo.
Russia's ambassador to the United Nations, Mr Vitaly Churkin, raising his hand to veto a resolution in the Security Council demanding an end to the bombing of Aleppo.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

UNITED NATIONS • Russia has vetoed a United Nations draft resolution demanding an end to the bombing of Aleppo, but its own rival measure on a truce in Syria's war-battered city was rejected.

The failure of the two resolutions on Saturday deepened divisions at the Security Council between Damascus ally Moscow and the Western powers backing opposition rebels in the war.

It was the fifth time that Russia used its veto to block UN action to end the five-year war in Syria, which has claimed 300,000 lives.

As the council meeting got under way, the Syrian regime pressed its assault on rebel-held areas of Aleppo, where 125,000 people are living under siege and facing almost-daily heavy bombing.

French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault urged the council to take immediate action to save Aleppo from being destroyed by the Russia-backed Syrian bombing campaign.

"What is at stake today is first and foremost the fate of Aleppo and its people," Mr Ayrault told the council. "But it's more than that - it's the hope of establishing at last an end to a conflict for which we are all, all of us, paying the catastrophic consequences."

The draft resolution presented by France called for an end to all military flights over Aleppo and to the aerial bombardments that have escalated since the Syrian army launched an offensive last month.

It won 11 votes in favour in the 15-member Security Council, but Russia and Venezuela voted against it.

Shortly after the Russian veto, the Security Council rejected the rival draft presented by Moscow - which called for a ceasefire but did not mention a halt in the air strikes.

The Syrian and Russian bombing campaign has escalated since the Russian-backed Syrian army launched an offensive to retake the city on Sept 22.

Since the regime offensive began a few days after a US- and Russian-brokered ceasefire collapsed, at least 290 people have been killed in rebel-held areas, 57 of them children, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported.

The altercation between the US and Russia heated up further when Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov accused Washington of taking aggressive steps that threatened Russia's national security, the RIA news agency reported.

Meanwhile, Lithuania said Russia is deploying nuclear-capable Iskander missiles into the Russian Kaliningrad outpost that borders Lithuania and Poland, both Nato members. Lithuania warned the move was aimed at pressuring the West into making concessions over Syria as well as Ukraine, which is battling pro-Russian separatists.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 10, 2016, with the headline 'Russia vetoes UN bid to end bombing of Aleppo'. Print Edition | Subscribe