Russia, China cast vetoes to block UN resolution on Syria
UNITED NATIONS, Sept 20: Russia and China on Thursday vetoed a UN Security Council resolution backed by 12 of the 15 member states that called for a ceasefire in Syria's war-torn Idlib province.
It was Russia's 13th veto of a UN resolution since the Syrian conflict erupted in 2011, highlighting the Security Council's impasse over the issue.
Germany, Belgium and Kuwait had led the push for the resolution, noting that half a million people have been displaced in Idlib since government forces opened an offensive four months ago.
They warned that the conflict could become the century's worst humanitarian crisis if the fighting persisted, and urged Russia not to veto what they said was a "purely humanitarian" measure.
But following two weeks of negotiations, Russia quashed the text after pressing unsuccessfully to include an exception for "anti-terrorist operations." The failed resolution said that all parties should cease hostilities "to avoid a further deterioration of the already catastrophic humanitarian situation in Idlib Governorate, beginning at noon Damascus time on 21 September."
Russia's ambassador to the UN, Vassily Nebenzia, denounced "the surge of humanitarian activism" by other members of the Security Council whenever the Syrian regime -- which is backed by Russia -- recovered territory.
"The resolution was flawed from the outset," he said, accusing its supporters of deliberately splitting the Security Council as world leaders prepare to converge on the UN General Assembly next week. Russia and China countered by presenting an alternative resolution, which was easily voted down later in Thursday's session.
It had specified that the ceasefire would not apply to military operations against individuals, groups or entities "associated with terrorist groups."
Western nations said the wording was unacceptable, as it allowed too much room for interpretation and may not have stopped the bombing of civilians. "Bombing hospitals, schools and civilian facilities is no help in the fight against terrorism," said Marc Pecsteen, Belgium's ambassador to the UN. -AFP