Russia Blocks UN Security Council Statement on Syria’s Idlib
Russia on Monday blocked the UN Security Council from issuing a statement on the increased fighting in Syria’s northwest and the possibility of a humanitarian disaster, the Associated Press cited an anonymous diplomat as saying. Belgium, Kuwait and Germany reportedly proposed that the council express concern about attacks on civilians amidst current violence and unrest should a full-scale military operation unfold, as well as call for humanitarian access, safe return for refugees and abiding by international humanitarian law on protecting civilians, according to a draft seen by AP. Hostilities have been occurring in the northwestern province of Idlib and nearby areas since the end of April as government troops attempt to retake the country’s last rebel-held stronghold after eight years of civil war. Russia, a strong Syrian ally, has claimed the offensive is necessary to stop terrorists. Last September, Russia and Turkey mediated a cease-fire in Idlib, but their joint interests seem to have diverged in recent months. The UN estimates that 3 million people are caught in the crossfire and around 250,000 Syrians have been displaced by the fighting.