UN security council unanimously backs observers to Aleppo

UN security council unanimously backs observers to Aleppo
The 15 member security council made a rare show of unity over Syria, after Russia backed down and supported a French-drafted resolution aimed at ensuring civilian safety during so-called evacuations.
2 min read
19 December, 2016
Thousands of Syrians remain stranded in eastern Aleppo [AFP]

The United Nations Security Council voted on Monday to swiftly deploy observers to Aleppo in order to monitor evacuations and the situation of civilians stranded in the besieged eastern part of the city.

Russia crucially gave its backing to the French-drafted resolution after threatening to block it last week.

The resolution was unanimously adopted by the council's fifteen member states, marking their first show of solidarity after months of division over Syria's war.

It demands "all parties to provide these monitors with safe, immediate and unimpeded access".

French Ambassador Francois Delattre said the international presence would prevent Aleppo from turning into another Srebrenica, where thousands of Bosnian men and boys were massacred in 1995 after the town fell to Bosnian Serb forces.

Prior to Monday's vote, Russia had vetoed six similar resolutions. Syria, meanwhile, has remained critical of the agreement despite its major allies Moscow backing it.

It remains unclear whether Damascus will allow observers access to the area, where Syrian, Russian and pro-Damascus militias have already been accused of war crimes, inclusing the use of chemical weapons and carrying out summary executions.

Bashar Jaafari, Syria's UN ambassador, called the resolution "just another part of the continued propaganda against Syria and its fight against terrorists".

UN Secretary General Ban-Ki Moon is set to report back to the council in five days on whether access has been granted by the Syrian regime, which has previously blocked UN aid to besieged areas.

Many see the regime and Russia as stalling for time, and follows reports of men being abducted or killed by militias while leaving the besieged territory on so-called evacuation routes.

Monday's agreement came after thousands of Aleppo's residents left the battered city as part of an agreement that will see regime forces take full control of the former bastion of rebel resistance.

Around 5,000 people left on Monday travelling in 75 buses, the International Committee of the Red Cross said.

Meanwhile, residents of two Shia villages in rebel-held Idlib also left the besieged regime areas for Aleppo.