Moscow says Russian and Syrian aircraft have not carried out any sorties over Aleppo for nine days in line with their “humanitarian pause.”
The Russian Defense Ministry responded on Thursday a day after a monitoring group sympathetic to militants claimed that airstrikes had killed at least 26 people in a village in Idlib.
Russia’s Ambassador to the United Nations Vitaly Churkin challenged the UN and the West to provide evidence of continuing airstrikes in Aleppo.
Churkin said no aircraft has approached the city at a distance of less than 10 km since a unilateral moratorium was announced by Russia and Syria on October 18 “in response to the UN call, and as a goodwill gesture.”
“If you have any information that there were any missile and bomb strikes, please provide this information,” Churkin said, adding he expected an “objective analysis” of the current situation.
Churkin also criticized the UN for failing “to thrash out in a proper way the operation on evacuation of the sick and injured people.”
“The UN staff members have failed to exert required pressure on patrons of the illegal armed units so that the militants could cooperate with humanitarian workers.”
The Russian ambassador also hit out at UN aid envoy Stephen O’Brien for bias and arrogance after claiming that Aleppo had become a “kill zone” under Russian and Syrian bombs.
The US, Britain and France rushed to his defense in one of the stormiest council sessions in weeks after Churkin accused O’Brien of failing to recognize that Russia and Syria had declared a humanitarian pause.
Churkin criticized the UN official for failing to present the facts objectively while foreign-backed rebels and al-Qaeda-linked terrorists are hampering a UN plan to evacuate the wounded from Aleppo.
“Please leave this kind of report to a novel that you might write one day,” the Russian ambassador told the UN official.
In Moscow, Russian Foreign Ministry said Takfiri militants continue to indiscriminately target residential neighborhoods of Aleppo, using makeshift rocket launchers, and preventing civilians from leaving the city’s militant-held east.
“Aircraft of the Russian aerospace forces and the Syrian air force have not been carrying out any flight closer than the 10-kilometer zone around the city of Aleppo for nine days,” ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov said.
Warships won’t join Aleppo campaign
The Foreign Ministry also dismissed as absurd suggestions from NATO that a new Russian battle group heading to the Mediterranean would join the campaign against terrorists in Aleppo.
The rebuttal came after NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg warned on Tuesday that the ships could be used to launch more airstrikes.
Andrei Kelin, a senior Russian Foreign Ministry official, told the RIA news agency that Stoltenberg’s statement was unhelpful.
“The concerns are not based on anything as our planes have not come near Aleppo for nine days. Our battle group is in the Mediterranean. Our ships have always had a presence there,” said Kelin.
Meanwhile, Syria’s Ambassador to the United Nations Bashar al-Ja’afari denounced double standards towards the ongoing conflict in his country.
Ja’afari lashed out at the US for supporting the so-called moderate militants in eastern Aleppo. He said Takfiri terrorists are now in possession of US-built rockets.
He also slammed Turkey’s aggressive policies toward Syria amid US support, saying it violated the basics of international law.
Ja’afari said Saudi Arabia – another key ally of the West – is supporting terrorism while Wahhabi muftis are fanning the flames of bloodshed in Syria, Iraq and Yemen through their decrees.
The entire Syrian population, he said, is suffering from the militancy being sponsored by Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Qatar and Israel.
Ja’afari called on all members of the UN Security Council to exercise their responsibilities concerning the establishment of security and peace across the globe.