Russia, West Exchange Blame as Syria Burns

Russia, West Exchange Blame as Syria BurnsRussia, West Exchange Blame as Syria Burns

World powers verbally sparred at an emergency UN Security Council meeting on Syria on Sunday, exchanging blame as a decisive battle for Aleppo unleashed a humanitarian crisis.

Addressing the UN Security Council, US Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power accused Moscow of “barbarism” while Russian and Syrian warplanes pounded Aleppo as part of a renewed offensive against the militant-controlled eastern half of the city, AFP reported.

“Instead of pursuing peace, Russia and Syrian President Bashar al-Assad make war,” Power told Security Council members.

“Even now, we will continue to look for any way possible to restore the cessation of hostilities, but it is commonsense: a one-sided cessation of hostilities cannot hold,” she added.

However, Russia’s UN Ambassador Vitaly Churkin told the council that his country wanted a ceasefire and negotiations between the warring parties in Syria, but “bringing a peace is almost an impossible task now”.

He accused the United States of failing to control militants and separate so-called moderates it backs from “terrorist” groups, in particular the Al-Qaeda-linked Levant Conquest Front, formerly al-Nusra.

Residents and militants said hundreds of people had been killed in the new strikes on Aleppo where water supplies to some two million people in government and militant areas have been cut off since a US and Russian brokered ceasefire broke down last week.

The French and British foreign ministers also directed their verbal attacks at Russia, saying Moscow could be guilty of war crimes.

The fierce fighting in Aleppo and the bombing of an aid convoy last week effectively collapsed the ceasefire deal. Since then, Moscow and Washington, which back opposing sides in the Syrian civil war, have been accusing each other of not implementing the nationwide ceasefire.

Despite the war of words, UN Syria mediator Staffan de Mistura appealed to the council to come up with a way to enforce a ceasefire.

“I am still convinced that we can turn the course of events,” he said, adding that he would not stop trying to bring peace in Syria.

The UN has been particularly concerned about the intense fighting in Aleppo. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon urged world powers to end the “nightmare” in Syria by putting aside their differences.

“What excuse is there for anything less than determined action to stop the mayhem? How much longer will all those with influence allow such cruelty to continue?” he asked. “I urge all involved to work harder for an end to the nightmare.”

Thousands of civilians remain trapped in Aleppo on Monday, five days into a Syrian Army-led offensive aimed at seizing militant-held areas of the country’s former economic capital.