27 September 2016

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

syriaRussia 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 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 munitions containing phosphorus and 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 opposition to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, openly accused Russia of lying about its involvement in the assault on Aleppo at an emergency session of the UN Security Council.

British permanent representative Matthew Rycroft said Mr Assad’s forces 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.

Ms Power told the meeting: “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.

Pro-Kremlin media in Russia have been gripped by the discussions on Syria at the UN Security Council, but they offered little comment on the accusations levelled against Moscow.

Instead, they dismissed the charges as “groundless” and hailed the response of Russian envoy Vitaly Churkin. “Both US and UK permanent representatives were lavish in criticising Moscow and Damascus, but received a firm response,” said Gazprom-owned NTV.

State-owned newspaper Rossiyskaya Gazeta accused the US and its allies of trying to “exert pressure on Damascus and Moscow, while doing nothing to meet their own obligations”.

Russian ambassador Vitaly Churkin blamed the unravelling of the truce deal on the US, saying it had failed to convince mainstream rebels to distance themselves from “terrorist” groups, especially the al-Qaeda-linked Jabhat Fatah al-Sham.

Mr Peskov also rejected the Western criticism at a news conference on Monday.

“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.

The Kremlin spokesman 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 to “regroup, replenish their arsenals and obviously prepare for offensive actions”.


Source: BBC

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