UNGA demands immediate halt to attacks against Syrian civilians

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NEW YORK, Dec 10 (APP): In a new resolution, the United Nations General Assembly has expressed outrage at ongoing violence in Syria and demanded an end to attacks that are killing civilians there — particularly the war-scarred city of Aleppo.

In a resolution adopted by a vote of 122-13, the 193-member Assembly also expressed worry that the continued deterioration of the situation in Syria demands “rapid” and unconditional humanitarian access throughout the country. Thirty-six members abstained.

Combatants have been fighting for control of the northern city of
Aleppo for months, which has been a militant stronghold for the Islamic State. Over weeks of fighting, many civilians have been wounded or
killed — a situation the General Assembly no longer wishes to tolerate.

The resolution demands “an immediate and complete end to all attacks
on civilians as well as an end to all sieges in war-ravaged country,”
and urges parties to the conflict to “take all appropriate steps to
protect civilians and persons hors de combat, including members of
ethnic, religious and confessional communities.”

Friday’s resolution, led by Canadian diplomats, came days after the Security Council failed to adopt a measure to implement a cease-fire in Aleppo.

“This is a vote to stand up and tell Russia and Assad to stop the carnage,” U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power told the General Assembly before the vote.

Russia is a close ally of Syria and has been providing military
backing to the government for more than a year.

Russian U.N. Ambassador Vitaly Churkin told reporters that the resolution: “To expect that it is going to produce some kind of dramatic U-turn in the situation in Syria is unrealistic.”

The U.N. resolution asks the U.N. secretary-general to report in 45
days on the implementation of the resolution and with recommendations “on ways and means to protect civilians.”

Canadian U.N. Ambassador Marc-Andre Blanchard acknowledged that the resolution was not a solution to the conflict, but an important statement.

“It is a reminder that above all else the lives of the Syrian people should be our priority. They are our priority and the world will not stay silent while they suffer without assistance,” he said before the vote.

A crackdown by Syrian government 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.

The United Nations estimates that nearly 150,000 Syrian civilians
either live in opposition-controlled areas of Aleppo or have fled to
areas under government control.

“Terrorism in all its forms constitutes one of the most serious
threats to international peace and security and that any acts of
terrorism are unjustifiable, regardless of their motivation, wherever, whenever and by whomsoever committed,” the resolution states.
Two official cease-fires this year have done little to stem the
violence in Aleppo, as negotiators continue to try and find a peaceful solution.