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France pushes UN Security Council action on Aleppo

French UN Ambassador Francois Delattre said he would raise the proposal in the 15-member council later on Friday after a briefing by UN aid chief Stephen O'Brien on Aleppo

By: Reuters | United Nations/paris |
December 17, 2016 12:00:27 am
This frame grab from video provided by Baladi News Network, a Syrian opposition media outlet that is consistent with independent AP reporting, shows civilians gathering for evacuation from eastern Aleppo, Syria, Thursday, Dec. 15, 2016. The Russian military said over 1,000 people have been evacuated from Aleppo under a cease-fire deal reached with Syrian rebels. France's ambassador to the United Nations says international observers should monitor the safe evacuation of civilians and fighters from the war-torn Syrian city of Aleppo. (Baladi News Network via AP) This frame grab from video provided by Baladi News Network, a Syrian opposition media outlet that is consistent with independent AP reporting, shows civilians gathering for evacuation from eastern Aleppo, Syria, Dec. 15, 2016. (Source: Baladi News Network via AP)

France said on Friday it is pushing for the United Nations Security Council to ensure the evacuation of Aleppo is coordinated by international observers, that humanitarian aid is allowed in to the Syrian city and that hospitals are protected.

French UN Ambassador Francois Delattre said he would raise the proposal in the 15-member council later on Friday after a briefing by UN aid chief Stephen O’Brien on Aleppo. The evacuation of people from the last opposition-held areas of the city was suspended on Friday after pro-government militias demanded that the wounded should also be brought out of two Shi’ite villages besieged by rebel fighters.

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“We hope there will be a consensus in the council … to act urgently to save the civilian population in Aleppo through a resolution that we have started drafting,” Delattre told reporters.

When asked who could coordinate and observe an operation, Delattre said: “You have U.N. resources on the ground.” Syrian ally Russia, which has provided military backing to President Bashar al-Assad’s troops, has vetoed six Security Council resolutions on Syria since the conflict started in 2011. China joined Moscow in vetoing five resolutions.

“If we have no consensus within the Security Council we would go for an emergency special session of the General Assembly. The goal of each (route) being to maximize pressure on those who have influence on those on the ground,” he said. Under a 1950 resolution, an emergency special session can be called for the 193-member General Assembly to consider a matter “with a view to making appropriate recommendations to members for collective measures” if the Security Council fails to act.

Such a session can be called by an assembly majority or nine members of the 15-member Security Council. Only 10 such sessions have been convened, and the last time the General Assembly met in such a session was in 2009 on Israeli actions in occupied Palestinian territories. An emergency special session of the General Assembly could adopt a resolution on Syria recommending action. General Assembly resolutions are non-binding but can carry political weight.

Russian UN Ambassador Vitaly Churkin told a separate Security Council meeting on the Middle East on Friday that Moscow was making “all possible efforts in order to de-escalate tension” throughout Syria, particularly in Aleppo. “Over the past few days the main flow of Russian humanitarian assistance has been directed to Aleppo. We believe that the most urgent task now is comprehensive end of military activity and resumption of inter-Syrian negotiations,” he said.

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