Drone footage obtained by Reuters shows damaged buildings in a rebel-held area of Aleppo, Syria. Handout via Reuters TV
UNITED NATIONS The United Nations Security Council will begin negotiations on Monday on a draft resolution that urges Russia and the United States to ensure an immediate truce in Syria's Aleppo and to "put an end to all military flights over the city."
The draft text, seen by Reuters, also asks U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon to propose options for a U.N.-supervised monitoring of a truce and threatens to "take further measures" in the event of non-compliance by "any party to the Syrian domestic conflict."
The 15-member council will begin talks on the text - drafted by France and Spain - on Monday afternoon, diplomats said.
The draft resolution urges Russia and the United States "to ensure the immediate implementation of the cessation of hostilities, starting with Aleppo, and, to that effect, to put an end to all military flights over the city."
Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov said on Monday that the draft text "raises many questions" for Moscow and was a politicized move to exert additional pressure on Russia and Syria, TASS news agency reported.
"It is very one-sided, it contains elements which don’t relate to the humanitarian issue at all," Gatilov said. "We will present our amendments to this text. So we will see to what extent they will be taken into account by our partners in the Security Council."
Russia and China have previously protected the Syrian government from council action by blocking several resolutions, including a bid to refer the situation in Syria to the International Criminal Court.
French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault has said that any state that opposes the resolution would be deemed complicit in war crimes. He told TV5 Monde television on Monday that he hoped to obtain results on the draft resolution this week.
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's forces, backed by Russia and Iran, have been battling for control of eastern Aleppo. Capturing the rebel-held half of Syria's largest city, where more than 250,000 civilians are trapped, would be the biggest victory of the five-year civil war for Assad's forces.
The draft text expresses "outrage at the unacceptable and escalating level of violence and at the intensified campaigns, in recent days, of aerial bombings in Aleppo" and demands "the Syrian government end all aerial bombardments, in order to facilitate safe and unhindered humanitarian access."
East Aleppo came under siege in July after its main supply route fell under government control. International attempts to establish a truce to allow in U.N. humanitarian aid have failed, although other groups have brought in limited supplies.
The relentless Russian and Syrian air campaign has badly damaged hospitals and water supplies.
A crackdown by Assad on pro-democracy protesters in 2011 sparked a civil war and Islamic State militants have used the chaos to seize territory in Syria and Iraq. Half of Syria's 22 million people have been uprooted and more than 400,000 killed.
(Additional reporting by Alexander Winning in Moscow, Bate Felix and Elizabeth Pineau in Paris; Editing by Alan Crosby, Bernard Orr)
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