U.N. to Discuss Urging End to All Military Flights Over Syria’s Aleppo

United Nations Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura speaks to media following a high level meeting on Syria by the United Nations Security Council at the United Nations in Manhattan, New York, U.S., September 25, 2016. The United Nations Security Council will begin negotiations on Monday on a draft resolution that urges Russia and the United States to ensure an immediate truce in Syria's Aleppo. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly

By Michelle Nichols

UNITED NATIONS, Oct 4 – The United Nations Security Council will begin negotiations on Monday on a draft resolution that urges Russia and the United States to ensure an immediate truce in Syria’s Aleppo and to “put an end to all military flights over the city.”

The draft text, seen by Reuters, also asks U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon to propose options for a U.N.-supervised monitoring of a truce and threatens to “take further measures” in the event of non-compliance by “any party to the Syrian domestic conflict.”

The 15-member council began talks on the text – drafted by France and Spain – on Monday afternoon, diplomats said.

The draft resolution 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.”

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s forces, backed by Russia war planes and Iranian support, have been battling to capture eastern Aleppo – the rebel-held half of Syria’s largest city, where more than 250,000 civilians are trapped.

Russian U.N. Ambassador Vitaly Churkin said on Monday that Moscow was engaged in discussions on the draft U.N. text, but that to have a resolution “singling out aviation, where terrorists (on the ground) would be allowed to do whatever they want, would not be a very attractive proposition.”

“I am not even sure many other Security Council members would like to see a resolution on cessation of hostilities that has no chance of working. If you pass a resolution you expect something to happen,” Churkin, who is president of the Security Council for October, told a news conference.

Russia and China have previously protected the Syrian government from council action by blocking several resolutions, including a bid to refer the situation in Syria to the International Criminal Court.

French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault has said that any state that opposes the resolution would be deemed complicit in war crimes. He told TV5 Monde television on Monday that he hoped to obtain results on the draft resolution this week.

East Aleppo came under siege in July after its main supply route fell under government control. International attempts to establish a truce to allow in U.N. humanitarian aid have failed, although other groups have brought in limited supplies.

The relentless Russian and Syrian air campaign has badly damaged hospitals and water supplies.

The draft U.N. text expresses “outrage at the unacceptable and escalating level of violence and at the intensified campaigns, in recent days, of aerial bombings in Aleppo” and demands “the Syrian government end all aerial bombardments, in order to facilitate safe and unhindered humanitarian access.”

British U.N. Ambassador Matthew Rycroft said he hoped the draft resolution could be adopting in the coming days but acknowledged that “even that is not going to not end the war. What will end the war is not another piece of paper.”

“It’s a change of mindset, it’s a change of heart, and it’s a decision, actually, to fulfill every single existing obligation, and if everyone around the Security Council table did that then the war in Syria would be over very rapidly,” he told reporters.

A crackdown by Assad on pro-democracy protesters in 2011 sparked a civil war and Daesh militants have used the chaos to seize territory in Syria and Iraq. Half of Syria’s 22 million people have been uprooted and more than 400,000 killed.

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