September 20, 2019
Middle East

Russia halts UN Security Council statement on Syrias Idlib

Russia blocked the UN Security Council on Monday from issuing a statement sounding alarm about the increasing fighting in and around Syrias Idlib province and the possibility of a humanitarian disaster, a council diplomat said.

The thwarted statement marked the latest in a series of logjams over Syria in the UNs most influential body.

Fighting has raged in Idlib and nearby areas in northwest Syria since government troops started pushing into the enclave on April 30, trying to retake the countrys last rebel-held redoubt after eight years of civil war. The UN says an estimated 3 million people are caught in the crossfire.

After multiple briefings last week on Idlib, Belgium, Kuwait and Germany proposed that the council express concern about attacks on civilians and assaults by extremist groups as well as a the potential for humanitarian catastrophe if a full-scale military operation unfolds, according to a draft seen by The Associated Press.

It called for humanitarian access, safe return for refugees and for following international humanitarian law on protecting civilians.

“It was really simple,” Kuwaiti Ambassador Mansour Al-Otaibi said when asked about the proposal at an unrelated news conference.

But key Syrian ally Russia objected Monday to the proposed statement, said a diplomat, who agreed to talk about the private discussions only if not quoted by name.

Russias UN mission didnt immediately respond to an inquiry about the proposed statement.

The Security Council has struggled to speak with one voice on Syria in recent years. In one notable example, a 2017 Russian veto put an end to an initiative that determined accountability for chemical attacks in Syria. That effort was run jointly by the UN and the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons.

At points, the US has accused Russia, a close Syrian ally, of using its veto-wielding seat to stop the council from taking important steps to stanch the violence and suffering in Syria.

Russia, in turn, has said its critics are trying to score rhetorical points while it has made concrete efforts, such as joining with Turkey to broker an Idlib cease-fRead More – Source

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