Nearly half of Syria’s 22 million people have been uprooted and more than 400,000 killed ever since the civil war started in 2011. Photograph: (Getty)
The two draft resolutions include a French text seeking end to air strikes and a Russian one that does not mention ending military flights
The United Nations Security Council is set to vote on Saturday on rival draft resolutions on Syria - a French text requiring an end to air strikes and military flights over Aleppo city and a Russian draft that is similar but makes no mention of ending military flights over the battered Syrian city.
The French draft is most likely to be vetoed by Russia while Moscow’s text is essentially the French draft with Russian amendments that brings the failed September 9 ceasefire deal between US and Russia back into focus.
“This is a cynical attempt to divert attention away from the bombing of Aleppo,” British UN Ambassador Matthew Rycroft said of the Russian draft, Reuters reported.
The 15-member council was negotiating on a French text for the past one week. A Saturday vote on that was called after French foreign minister Jean-Marc Ayrault visited Moscow on Thursday and Washington on Friday to discuss the resolution.
Following Ayrault’s visit, Moscow proposed its own draft and said it would be put to a vote immediately after the vote on the French draft, which is likely to be blocked by Russia because it "demands that all parties immediately end all aerial bombardments of and military flights over Aleppo city."
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s forces, backed by Russian war planes and Iranian support, have been battling to capture eastern Aleppo, the rebel-held half of Syria’s largest city.
"This is not a draft which is right for adoption, I have this suspicion that the real motive is to cause a Russian veto," Russian UN Ambassador Vitaly Churkin told Reuters on Friday of the French text. "I cannot possibly see how we can let this resolution pass."
Security Council diplomats have told Reuters that while the Russian draft contained a lot of reasonable language, the lack of any references to ending air strikes on Aleppo was likely to be a problem.
In order to be adopted, a resolution needs nine votes in favour and no vetoes. The council veto powers are the United States, France, Britain, Russia and China.
The US has already suspended talks with Russia on implementing a ceasefire deal in Syria and has accused Moscow of not living up to its commitments to halt fighting.
The failed ceasefire deal is annexed to the Russian draft UN resolution, which urges Moscow and Washington to ensure the implementation of the agreement. It stresses an "urgent need to achieve and verify separating moderate opposition forces from ‘Jabhat Al-Nusra’ as a key priority."
Nearly half of Syria’s 22 million people have been uprooted and more than 400,000 killed ever since the civil war started in 2011.
(WION with inputs from Reuters and AFP)