Russia faces calls at UN to halt Syria bombings

10th February 2016, Comments 0 comments

France, Britain and their allies at the UN Security Council on Wednesday pushed Russia to end its bombing of Syria's Aleppo province and press the regime to allow humanitarian aid.

"Let me be clear about it: It's not a favor that we are asking to the Syrian regime and its allies, it's their obligation," French Ambassador Francois Delattre told reporters.

The Security Council met at the request of New Zealand and Spain to discuss the humanitarian crisis in Aleppo where tens of thousands of Syrians are fleeing a Syrian government offensive, backed by Russian air power.

The appeals to Russia came the eve of a crucial meeting in Munich of the 17-nation International Syria Support Group that is to chart a way forward for peace talks set to resume in Geneva on February 25.

"The regime and its allies cannot pretend they are extending a hand to the opposition while, with their other hand, they are trying to destroy them," said Delattre.

President Bashar Al-Assad's forces backed by Russian warplanes have captured a string of villages around opposition-held Aleppo over the past week and managed to cut a major rebel supply route to the city.

Up to 35,000 people have fled the area in recent days, according to UN aid chief Stephen O'Brien, with tens of thousands massing on the border with Turkey.

British Ambassador Matthew Rycroft said Russia must give a "proper response" to "concerns that we have and that everyone else has about whether they are really fulfilling their obligations."

"They have an obligation to use their influence over the Assad regime to get a ceasefire, to get proper humanitarian access and to stop these aerial bombardments," said Rycroft.

The meeting held behind closed-door was not expected to yield any concrete decision but diplomats stressed it would set the tone before the Munich talks on Thursday.

Syria's nearly five-year-old war has killed 260,000 people and displaced half the population.

© 2016 AFP

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