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Rival UN resolutions by Russia and west over Syrian conflict defeated

Published 08/10/2016

UN ambassador Vitaly Churkin is likely to veto a bid to ground Russian warplanes (AP)
UN ambassador Vitaly Churkin is likely to veto a bid to ground Russian warplanes (AP)

Rival resolutions on Syria backed by the West and Russia have been defeated in the UN Security Council - offering no relief to the besieged city of Aleppo and leaving the key powers divided over a course of action.

Russia vetoed a French-drafted resolution demanding an immediate halt to the bombing campaign the Syrian government and Russia are carrying out against rebel-held districts in Aleppo.

A rival Russian draft which made no mention of a bombing halt was rejected because it failed to get the minimum nine "yes" votes needed for approval by the 15-member council.

Russia's UN ambassador Vitaly Churkin, the current rotating council president, said before the votes that members were engaging in "one of the strangest spectacles" in the Security Council, because they were meeting knowing that neither resolution would be adopted.

"This waste of time is inadmissible," he said.

The votes reflected the deep divisions in the UN's most powerful body which is charged with ensuring international peace and security but has totally failed to take action to end the five-year Syrian conflict which has killed more than 300,000 people and displaced millions.

The French-backed resolution received 11 "yes" votes, two "no" votes from Russia and Venezuela, and abstentions from China and Angola. The Russian resolution received four "yes" votes, nine "no" votes, and two abstentions.

It was the fifth veto by Russia of a western-backed resolution aimed at ending the Syrian conflict.

When Syria's UN ambassador Bashar Ja'afari started speaking, a number of ambassadors walked out, including the representatives of the UK, France, Ukraine and the US.

The French foreign minister Jean-Marc Ayrault, who addressed the session before the vote on the French resolution, warned that the continued bombing of Aleppo was killing civilians and destroying hospitals and schools - "and has nothing to do with combating terrorism," as Syrian president Bashar Assad's government and its close ally Russia contend.

"It is the annihilation of Aleppo," Mr Ayrault said, declaring that the continued bombing will leave the city in ruins, a place where citizens will be left to their "executioners".

He compared Aleppo's likely fate to Guernica during the Spanish Civil War in the 1930s, Srebrenica during the Bosnian war and the Chechen capital Grozny which was pummelled by the Russian army in the mid-1990s.

Russia's Mr Churkin said the demand for a bombing halt in Aleppo was "not fleshed out" and would affect the government-controlled western part of the city as well as the rebel-held east.

He said the French resolution's adoption would have been the first where the Security Council decided on a course of action for a permanent council member without prior agreement - meaning that Russia would have been required to stop all flights and bombing of Aleppo.

Mr Churkin noted that activity in Aleppo had reduced on Friday and "we hope this is a trend that will continue".

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