October 18, 2016 - 3:12 PM
Russia is calling on countries with influence on Syrian opposition groups to intensify efforts to separate moderate forces from terrorist entities in besieged eastern Aleppo in a draft statement submitted to the U.N. Security Council on Tuesday.
Russia's U.N. Ambassador Vitaly Churkin said the statement, which must be approved by the 15-member council, also calls on all parties to prevent material and financial support from reaching groups designated as terrorists by the Security Council.
Churkin said that Russia and Syria have halted air strikes on eastern Aleppo in preparation for an eight-hour humanitarian pause on Thursday.
"I think what we're trying to do now is more than just one humanitarian pause, it's a way to try to find a radical turn for the better for the people of eastern Aleppo," Churkin said.
The proposed statement is the latest in a series of diplomatic manoeuvrs aimed at trying to end Syria's increasingly brutal civil war now in sixth year.
Earlier this month, Russia vetoed a French-drafted resolution demanding an immediate halt to the bombing campaign that the Syrian government and Russia are carrying out against rebel-held districts in eastern Aleppo. A rival Russian draft, which made no mention of a bombing halt, failed to get the minimum nine "yes" votes needed for approval.
Some council diplomats, speaking on background because the consultations were private, said they were unlikely to support the Russian statement, adding that the eight-hour pause was insufficient to provide humanitarian aid to the more than a quarter million people trapped in eastern Aleppo.
Earlier in the day, U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric said that humanitarian workers needed a pause of at least 48 hours to be able to send aid convoys into the area.
"The U.N. and its partners have been and remain ready to proceed with urgent medical evacuation, provide urgent lifesaving assistance when all security assurances are provided," Dujarric said. "We don't have the security guarantees that we need right now."
News from © The Associated Press, 2016