Syria conflict: US and UK speeches ‘unacceptable’ – Russia

A man walks on the rubble of damaged buildings after an air strike on the rebel held Qaterji district of Aleppo, Syria (25 September 2016)
REUTERS/A monitoring group has documented 124 deaths in rebel-held Aleppo since Thursday

 

Russia has criticised the US and UK for using “unacceptable” tone and rhetoric in speeches on Syria at the UN, after being accused of “barbarism”.

On Sunday, US permanent representative Samantha Power said Russian and Syrian government forces were laying waste to rebel-held areas of the city of Aleppo.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov warned that such language might damage efforts to end the five-year civil war.

Activists meanwhile reported dozens of fresh air strikes on Aleppo overnight.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said at least two civilians had been killed, while a rescue worker accused the Syrian and Russian air forces of using phosphorus, napalm and cluster bombs.

At least 124 people are believed to have been killed in rebel-held eastern Aleppo since last week, when a truce brokered by the US and Russia collapsed and the Syrian military announced the start of an operation to take full control of the city.

The US, UK and France, which back the rebels in Syria, openly accused Russia of lying about its involvement in the assault on Aleppo at an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council.

British permanent representative Matthew Rycroft said Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s government and Moscow had “plunged to new depths and unleashed a new hell on Aleppo”.

He alleged that they were committing war crimes by using “bunker-busting bombs to destroy underground shelters, dropping incendiary weapons indiscriminately on civilian areas, and targeting the city’s water supplies.

In her address, Ms Power told the Council: “Instead of pursuing peace, Russia and Assad make war. Instead of helping get life-saving aid to civilians, Russia and Assad are bombing the humanitarian convoys, hospitals, and first responders who are trying desperately to keep people alive.”

“What Russia is sponsoring and doing is not counterterrorism; it is barbarism,” she added.

Ms Power and her French and British counterparts later walked out when Syria’s ambassador, Bashar al-Jaafari, began an address in which he insisted that “the victory by Syria and its allies over terrorism is inevitable”.

Speaking to reporters in Moscow on Monday, Mr Peskov rejected the criticism.

“We note that the tone and rhetoric used by official representatives from the UK and US is generally unacceptable and it can seriously damage the settlement process and our bilateral relations, but in the interests of the higher ideas of settlement we are minded to detach ourselves from unnecessary emotion,” he said.

Mr Peskov acknowledged that the truce deal had been “not very effective”, but insisted that Moscow “definitely remains hopeful, and most importantly it retains the political will to apply as much effort as possible to find a steady path for political settlement in Syria”.

But he also warned that “terrorists” had used the truce regroup their forces and launch attacks on government troops.

Aleppo and surrounding area map

Source: BBC

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