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Huge mistake not to cooperate with Syrian Govt: Putin

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By NewsGram staff writer

United Nations: While addressing the general debate of the UN General Assembly, which opened on Monday, Russian President Vladimir Putin said It would be an “enormous mistake” to refuse to cooperate with the Syrian government, Xinhua news agency reported.

“We think that it is an enormous mistake to refuse to cooperate with the Syrian government and its armed forces who are valiantly fighting terrorism face to face,” said Putin.

“We should finally acknowledge that no one but President Assad’s forces and the Kurdish militia are truly fighting the IS and other terrorist organisations in Syria.”

Putin said Moscow’s approach to Syria has drawn criticism but insisted this was only because Russia was more honest and frank about its ambitions than its critics.

“It is not about Russia’s ambitions but about the recognition of the fact that we can no longer tolerate the current state of affairs in the world,” he said.

Putin also took aim at a proposal put forward by France to limit the use of the veto in the UN Security Council. “The veto right has always been exercised — by the US, the UK, France, China, and Russia alike — it is absolutely natural for so diverse and representative organisation,” he said, referring to the five permanent members who have veto power on the UN Security Council.

“When the UN was established its founders did not think there would always be unanimity,” he said. “The mission of the organisation is to seek and reach compromises and its strength comes from taking different views and opinions into consideration.”

Over 140 heads of government are expected to speak at this year’s general debate of the 193-member General Assembly in commemoration of the 70th anniversary of the founding of the UN.

 

(With inputs from IANS)

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Clash at UN with Russia, Syria over Syria Hospital Attacks

The United Nations said on Friday at least 18 health centers have been attacked in the past three weeks in northwestern Syria

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clash, un, russia, syria, hospital
The destroyed building of Nabd Al-Hayat hospital that was hit by an air strike is seen in Hass, Idlib province, Syria, May 6, 2019 in this still image taken from a video on May 9, 2019. VOA

The United Nations said on Friday at least 18 health centers have been attacked in the past three weeks in northwestern Syria, prompting a confrontation between western powers and Russia and Syria at the Security Council over who is to blame.

While the area is nominally protected by a Russian-Turkish deal agreed in September to avert a new battle, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s forces — backed by Russians — have launched an offensive on the last major insurgent stronghold. Some three million civilians are at risk, the United Nations said.

“Since we know that Russia and Syria are the only countries that fly planes in the area, is the answer … the Russian and Syrian air forces?” Britain’s U.N. Ambassador Karen Pierce said to the 15-member council on where the blame lay.

Acting U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Jonathan Cohen said Russia and Syria were responsible for the attacks on the health centers. He said it was “most alarming” that several of the centers attacked were on a list created by Russia and the United Nations in an attempt to protect them.

clash, un, russia, syria, hospital
United Kingdom Ambassador Karen Pierce address a meeting of the United Nations Security Council on Yemen, Oct. 23, 2018 at UN headquarters. VOA

Pierce said it would be “absolutely grotesque” if health facilities that provided their locations were “finding themselves being the authors of their own destruction because of deliberated targeting by the regime.”

Russian U.N. Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia said the Syrian and Russian forces were not targeting civilians or civilian infrastructure and questioned the sources used by the United Nations to verify attacks on health centers.

clash, un, russia, syria, hospital
U. N. Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator (OCHA) Mark Lowcock attends a news conference for the launch of the “Global Humanitarian Overview 2019” at the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, Dec. 4, 2018. VOA

“We categorically reject accusations of violations of international humanitarian law,” Nebenzia told the council. “Our goal is the terrorists.”

An array of insurgents have a foothold in northwestern Syria – Idlib province and a belt of territory around it. The most powerful is the jihadist Tahrir al-Sham, the latest incarnation of the former Nusra Front which was part of al Qaeda until 2016.

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U.N. aid chief Mark Lowcock told the Security Council he did not know who was responsible, but “at least some of these attacks are clearly organized by people with access to sophisticated weapons including a modern air force and so called smart or precision weapons.”

Lowcock said 49 health centers had partially or totally suspended activities, some for fear of being attacked, while 17 schools have been damaged or destroyed and many more closed. He said that in the past three weeks up to 160 people have been killed and at least 180,000 people displaced.

U.N. political affairs chief Rosemary DiCarlo warned the Security Council: “If the escalation continues and the offensive pushes forward, we risk catastrophic humanitarian fallout and threats to international peace and security.” (VOA)