UN Security Council to vote Sunday on Aleppo observers

Syrians and Iranian migrants hold banners during a gathering to protest against the war in Aleppo outside the Iranian embassy in Paris on Saturday. (AP Photo/Michel Euler)
Updated 18 December 2016
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UN Security Council to vote Sunday on Aleppo observers

UNITED NATIONS: The UN Security Council will vote Sunday on a French proposal to send observers to the flashpoint Syrian city of Aleppo to monitor evacuations and report on the protection of civilians, diplomats said.
The council will meet at 10 a.m. (1500 GMT) to decide on the draft resolution, despite resistance from Russia, Syria’s ally and a veto-wielding Security Council member.
France circulated a draft text late Friday stating that the council is “alarmed” by the worsening humanitarian crisis in Aleppo and by the fact that “tens of thousands of besieged Aleppo inhabitants” are in need of aid and evacuation.
Thousands of trapped civilians and the last remaining opposition fighters in Aleppo were waiting for evacuations to resume on Saturday, a day after the operation was suspended by the Syrian government.
Syrian forces this week moved to assert full control over the east of the city, which had been held by opposition fighters since 2012.
French Ambassador Francois Delattre said the international presence prevents Aleppo from turning into another Srebrenica, where thousands of Bosnian men and boys were massacred in 1995 when the town fell to Bosnian Serb forces during the Balkan wars.
“Our goal through this resolution is to avoid another Srebrenica in this phase immediately following the military operations,” Delattre told AFP.
The draft resolution would request that UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon quickly redeploy UN humanitarian staff already in Syria to the city “to carry out adequate, neutral monitoring, direct observation and to report on evacuations from besieged parts of Aleppo and protection of civilians inside Aleppo,” according to a copy of the text obtained by AFP.
Ban would also ensure the deployment of further staff, according to the draft text, which demands that Syria grant access to the observers.
The UN chief would report to the council within five days on whether access has been granted by the Syrian government, which has repeatedly blocked UN access during the nearly six-year war.
Evacuations were expected to resume under a new deal that would allow civilians and fighters in other besieged towns to leave, according to rebel officials, but the Damascus government made no announcements.
The draft resolution would seek to ensure the “voluntary, safe and dignified passage of all civilians” from Aleppo and other areas under UN monitoring and coordination, with priority given to the wounded and most vulnerable.
It demands the protection of all doctors, medical workers, hospitals and ambulances following reports that Syrian forces had bombed all of the medical facilities in Aleppo.
The text specifically mentions the need to protect the border hospitals of Atmeh, Darkoush, Bab Al-Hawa and Bab Al-Salamah, where many of the evacuees would be taken.
The council would also demand that urgent humanitarian aid reach Aleppo, which has been under siege since July.
US Ambassador Samantha Power said Friday that the observers on the ground would provide a “presence as protection.”
But Russian Ambassador Vitaly Churkin said he found elements of the French proposal “questionable,” including whether the observers could be quickly redeployed.
Ban has urged Syrian parties to resume the evacuation operation and allow civilians to leave safely, saying “Aleppo is now a synonym for hell.”


Iranian official in surprise visit to Lebanon

Updated 18 July 2019
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Iranian official in surprise visit to Lebanon

  • Some of the threats made by the Zionist enemy are not in favor of the region’s security, Abdollahian says

BEIRUT: “Lebanon must be kept out of all regional crises,” said Iran’s Shoura Council assistant speaker for international affairs, Hossein Amir Abdollahian, during a surprise visit to Beirut on Wednesday.

“We say at the top of our voice that Iran and its allies will not allow the Zionist entity and the US to damage the region’s security.”

Following his meeting with Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri, Abdollahian said that Tehran “is convinced that the security of Lebanon is the security of the region and the Islamic Republic of Iran.”

Abdollahian added that “some of the threats made by the Zionist enemy are not in favor of the region’s security.”

He described his talks with Berri as “good and constructive.”

“We will not allow Israel, US to interfere with regional security.”

Hossein Amir Abdollahian, Iran’s Shoura Council official

Abdollahian said: “We have come today to reaffirm that Iran fully supports the people, army, resistance and government of Lebanon, and we look forward to developing relations between our two countries until they reach the highest levels.”

He said he believes that the statements of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu are for “domestic consumption,” accusing him of “making some moves in the region that are not in his favor.”

Netanyahu responded to a message from Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah on Sunday by threatening Hezbollah during Israel’s Cabinet meeting.

Netanyahu said: “Let me be clear that if Hezbollah dares to commit an act of stupidity and attack Israel, we will deal a crushing military blow on Lebanon. But unlike Nasrallah, I do not intend to detail our plans. It would be enough to recall that, for years, Nasrallah dug terror tunnels, and we demolished them within a few days.”