UN Security Council Meets To Vote On Syria Ceasefire

US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley huddles with her staff before a United Nations Security Council meeting on a ceasefire in Syria February 24, 2018 in New York.
Don EMMERT / AFP

 

 

After a two-hour delay, UN Security Council ambassadors took their seats on Saturday ahead of a vote on demanding a 30-day ceasefire in Syria.

The council has been negotiating a draft resolution for two weeks that would demand a ceasefire “without delay” to allow immediate deliveries of humanitarian aid and medical evacuations.

Russia Backs Move

With Russia’s backing, the UN Security Council on Saturday unanimously demanded the 30-day ceasefire.

“We are late to respond to this crisis, very late,” US Ambassador Nikki Haley told the council after the vote, accusing Russia of stalling the vote.

More than 500 people, including more than 120 children, have been killed in seven days of relentless airstrikes in Eastern Ghouta, which UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres described as “hell on earth.”

The resolution demands a cessation of hostilities “without delay” throughout Syria to allow the “safe, unimpeded and sustained” deliveries of aid and evacuations of the sick and wounded.

To win Russia’s approval, language specifying that the ceasefire would start 72 hours after the adoption of the draft was scrapped, replaced by “without delay,” and the term “immediate” was also dropped in reference to the aid deliveries and evacuations.

Diplomats said they were confident that this would not open the door to postponing the ceasefire, as council members had made clear in negotiations that the truce must quickly come into force.

Guterres is to report to the council in 15 days on the ceasefire, diplomats said.

In another concession to Russia, the resolution said the ceasefire will not apply to operations against the Islamic State group or Al-Qaeda, along with “individuals, groups, undertakings and entities” associated with the terror groups.

That would allow the Syrian government offensive to continue against Al-Qaeda-linked jihadists in Idlib, the last province in Syria outside the control of Damascus.

The text demands the lifting of all sieges including in Eastern Ghouta, Yarmouk, Foua and Kefraya and order all sides to “cease depriving civilians of food and medicine indispensable to their survival.”

UN To Vote On Syria Ceasefire Deal

Syria Ceasefire Deal, United Nations, UNAs the Syria ceasefire deal comes into force, the United Nations Security Council is expected to vote on a Russian resolution endorsing the truce.

The resolution comes against a backdrop of deadlock among the veto-wielding members of the Security Council.

While Russia supports Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, the US, UK and France have insisted that the President must step down as part of any deal to end the war.

The Russian resolution, however, called for rapid access for the delivery of humanitarian aid all over Syria.

BBC said the draft text also supported a political process to end the conflict, with talks between the government and opposition, brokered by Russia and Turkey said to be due in January in Kazakhstan.

The truce, which began barely 48 hours, has held in most places.

But there have been a number of clashes and air strikes while several groups including the Islamic State and Al-Nusra Front are excluded from the ceasefire deal.

Syria Ceasefire ‘Holding’ As It Enters First Full Day

Syria CeasefireReports from Syria say the cessation of hostilities that came into effect on Monday appears to be holding.

The deal, brokered by Russia and the US, has been described by the US Secretary of State, John Kerry, as possibly the “last chance to save a united Syria”.

Residents in the troubled northern city of Aleppo said there had been calm in the city.

A monitoring group based in the United Kingdom, Syrian Observatory for Human Rights has also confirmed that it appeared to be “quiet” on nearly all fronts.

However, there were reports of sporadic attacks carried out by both government forces and rebels after the ceasefire had come into effect.

The Syrian Army said the truce would be applied throughout Syria for seven days, but that it reserved the right to respond decisively to any violation by armed groups.