United Nations aid chief Stephen O’Brien told the Security Council on Wednesday that the “buck stops with you” when it comes to ending the nearly six year war in Syria, and he is “incandescent with rage” that no action is being taken to do so.
In a scathing speech to the 15-member body, O’Brien called upon “all council members who have operational military assets in Syria to take concrete steps to halt the aerial bombardment of civilian areas…in order to protect civilians and allow us to deliver humanitarian assistance to those in need.” O’Brien was specifically slamming the Assad regime and Russia for their continued relentless bombing Aleppo.
O’Brien, along with the US ambassador to the UN, cited a text of a leaflet that has been dropped in large numbers on eastern Aleppo by Assad regime and Russian planes.
“This is your last hope. Save yourselves. If you do not leave these areas urgently, you will be annihilated,” the leaflet reads, ending: “You know that everyone has given up on you. They left you alone to face your doom and nobody will give you any help.”
“Aleppo has essentially become a kill zone. Since my last report to this Council less than a month ago – 400 more people have been killed and nearly 2,000 injured in eastern Aleppo. So many of them – too many of them – were children,” O’Brien said.
O’Brien pointed out that no UN aid has reached eastern Aleppo for four months. “Civilians are being bombed by Syrian and Russian forces, and if they survive that, they will starve tomorrow. The tactics are as obvious as they are unconscionable.”
“I cannot help but be incandescent with rage. Month after month, worse and worse, and nothing is actually happening to stop the war, stop the suffering,” O’Brien told the council.
“If you don’t take action, there will be no Syrian peoples or Syria to save – that will be this council’s legacy, our generation’s shame. It is in your hands today to take the right path, and avert this looming irreversible tragedy of our time,” O’Brien added.
The US ambassador to the UN Samantha Power said that “what Russia really wants from the UN is credit…You don’t get congratulations and get credit for not committing war crimes for a day or a week.”
“Does Russia believe that all the children who are being killed in eastern Aleppo are themselves al-Qaeda members? Is that what happens – you come out of the womb and you’re an al-Qaeda member right from the beginning?”
Power slammed Russia’s “systematic aerial bombardment of eastern Aleppo,” adding that “Russia has brought to bear in the conflict weapons that even a brutal Syrian regime had never used before.”
“These bunker-buster weapons that are designed to get families who are huddled, hospitals that have had to be rebuilt several stories down in basements. These weapons are just designed to target people burrowed in the ground. They’re not designed for terrorists,” Power told the council.
Airstrikes by the Assad regime and Russia air forces on Wednesday hit a schools complex and a public market in the town of Hass in rural Idlib, killing at least 26 civilians and wounding dozens more, mostly schoolchildren and teachers. High-explosive parachute-retarded bombs were used in the airstrikes, launched in a joint attack by the Assad regime and Russian air forces.
In a statement released following the attack, the Coalition stressed that the deliberate targeting of civilians using high-explosive weapons is clearly aimed at killing as many people as possible; causing mayhem; forcing civilians to leave their homes; and forcing them to agree to local truces out of the framework of the political process.
Regime forces and Iranian-backed militias, backed by Russian aerial cover, have laid siege on the rebel-held eastern parts of Aleppo for nearly two months. The blockade has caused severe shortages of food and medical supplies, threatening the lives of about 300,000 civilians trapped inside. (Source: Syrian Coalition + Anadolu Agency)