Security Council urged to press for halt in Syria violence to protect civilians

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UN Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura. UN Photo/Manuel Elias.

The international community has been asked to push for a break in the violence in Syria in the wake of intensified government airstrikes in Aleppo.

UN Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura made the appeal during an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council convened on Sunday morning.

Mr de Mistura said the military operations have contributed to what he described as one of the worst weeks in nearly six years of conflict.

Approximately 275,000 people are trapped in the eastern part of Aleppo city, where humanitarian aid is running out.

Dianne Penn reports.

Since the start of the offensive on Thursday, more than 200 people across Aleppo have been killed, according to information cited by the UN Envoy.

Mr de Mistura said sources have described the scale of the bombing and the type of devices used as "unprecedented."

He said among the weapons deployed were bunker buster bombs, which have caused large craters, leaving behind huge piles of rubble on the ground.

Echoing the UN Secretary-General, Mr de Mistura said their use in civilian areas may amount to war crimes.

"From a humanitarian point of view, we ask this Council: One: to press for a cessation of the violence and protection of civilians and civilian infrastructure. Two: weekly 48-hour pauses in the fighting to ensure at least that the UN and its partners can reach eastern Aleppo without preconditions; neither from the government, and,  frankly, not even  from the opposition. Three: to press for medical evacuations, and there are several cases, for urgent cases from eastern Aleppo."

Mr de Mistura appealed for Security Council members to develop a common course of action to enforce a cessation of hostilities agreement which fell apart last week.

Dianne Penn, United Nations.

Duration: 1’20″


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