France, UK and US lead call for ‘immediate’ Aleppo ceasefire

Aleppo

Aleppo

French President François Hollande denounced on Wednesday “systematic obstruction” by Russia at the UN Security Council after the failure of a resolution calling for a seven-day ceasefire in the Syrian city of Aleppo.

A statement jointly issued with Canada, Germany and Italy also hit out at the regime in Damascus and its “foreign backers, especially Russia,” accusing them of blocking emergency help.

“The urgent need now is for an immediate ceasefire to allow the United Nations to get humanitarian assistance to people in eastern Aleppo,” the statement said.

The countries said 200,000 civilians in Aleppo, including many children, were “cut off from food and medicine supplies”.

A humanitarian disaster is “taking place before our very eyes”, the six countries said.

“We condemn the actions of the Syrian regime and its foreign backers, especially Russia, for their obstruction of humanitarian aid,” the statement said.

They called on Iran and Russia to “use their influence” to ensure Damascus agrees the UN’s four-point plan for Aleppo.

The plan aims at allowing humanitarian aid into the shattered east of the city where regime forces are seizing control of rebel-held areas, and for sick or injured to be evacuated.

Syria’s army took control of all of Aleppo’s Old City Wednesday as rebels retreated in the face of an offensive that has seen troops capture three-quarters of opposition territory in the battered city.

‘Systematic obstruction’

France’s President François Hollande had earlier slammed Russia’s “systematic obstruction” at the UN Security Council after Moscow shot down a French-backed resolution calling for a seven-day ceasefire in Aleppo.

“Russia’s systematic obstruction bolsters the regime of Bashar al-Assad in its destructive drive which is harming the defenceless civilian population,” a statement from Hollande’s office said.

French ambassador to the UN François Delattre accused Russia on Tuesday of having “decided to take Aleppo regardless of the human cost”.

The draft text demanded that “all parties to the Syrian conflict cease… any and all attacks in the city of Aleppo”.

It also called for the sides to “allow urgent humanitarian needs to be addressed”, meaning permitting emergency services to enter and assist tens of thousands of residents in the besieged areas.