Russia says 'no agreement' at United Nations on Syria ceasefire

The ambassador cited concerns over measures to enforce the ceasefire and the safe delivery of aid before announcing that he would circulate proposals to amend the draft resolution.

Published: 23rd February 2018 12:57 AM  |   Last Updated: 23rd February 2018 12:57 AM   |  A+A-

Smoke rises from inside Syria, during Turkish forces bombardment, on the Kurdish-controlled Syrian enclave (File | AP)


UNITED NATIONS: Russia on Thursday said there was no agreement at the UN Security Council on a 30-day ceasefire for Syria and presented amendments to a draft resolution that would allow aid deliveries and the evacuation of civilians from besieged Eastern Ghouta.

The Security Council has been negotiating the draft resolution on the ceasefire for nearly two weeks as the Syrian government has pressed on with a fierce offensive in the rebel-held enclave.

Russian Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia said Sweden and Kuwait, which drafted the measure, had requested a vote on the draft resolution even though they are "fully aware there is no agreement on it."

The Security Council needs to reach a "feasible" agreement on a ceasefire and not take a decision that would be "populistic" and "severed from reality," said Nebenzia.

More than 400 people have been killed in the five-day assault by the Syrian government on Eastern Ghouta, which UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has described as "hell on earth" for civilians.

The ambassador cited concerns over measures to enforce the ceasefire and the safe delivery of aid before announcing that he would circulate proposals to amend the draft resolution.

Sweden and Kuwait presented the measure to the council on February 9, but negotiations have dragged on as Syrian forces backed by Russia escalated their fierce offensive.

The United States, France, Britain have called on the council to move to a vote as quickly as possible.

Swedish Ambassador Olof Skoog urged the council to back the ceasefire to "avert a situation that is beyond words in its desperation." 

The draft resolution would pave the way for the truce to go into effect 72 hours after the adoption of the measure and for aid deliveries and medical evacuations to begin 48 hours after that.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov was quoted by Russian news agencies earlier as saying that Moscow could back the measure if it did not apply to rebel groups who are shelling Damascus.

In a concession to Russia, the draft was amended last week to specify that the ceasefire does not apply to the Islamic State group or Al-Qaeda, but Lavrov appeared to put forward new demands.

"The resolution that is on the table, we are ready to look at it, but we have offered very precise phrasing that would say that the ceasefire would under no circumstances extend to ISIL, Jabhat al-Nusra and those groups cooperating with them and systemically attacking the residential neighborhoods of Damascus," Lavrov said.

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