UN faces rival cease-fire resolutions in Syrian rebel area
UNITED NATIONS (AP) — The U.N. Security Council is facing rival resolutions calling for a cease-fire in Syria’s last rebel stronghold in Idlib, “to avoid a further deterioration of the already catastrophic humanitarian situation.”
Germany, Belgium and Kuwait finalized their text Wednesday afternoon and called for a vote Thursday. Their draft resolution calls for a cessation of hostilities in Idlib governorate at noon Damascus time Saturday.
Soon after, Russia and China also put their rival text in a final form for a vote. It calls for a cessation of hostilities in September but gives no date.
Their resolution would also include exemptions for “military operations against individuals, groups, undertakings and entities associated with terrorist group, as designated by the Security Council.”
Germany, Belgium and Kuwait, who are serving two-year terms on the Security Council, are in charge of drafting resolutions on Syria’s humanitarian situation. Diplomats said they have been meeting with Russia to try to reach agreement on a text following a spate of attacks on hospitals, health facilities and aid workers.
The diplomats, speaking on condition of anonymity because discussions have been private, said the three countries insist that the text include language that counter-terrorism activities must comply with international humanitarian law, but Russia objected.
The draft resolution by Germany, Belgium and Kuwait “demands that member states ensure that all measures taken to counter terrorism, including in Idlib governorate, comply with their obligations under international law, including international humanitarian law, international human rights law and international refugee law.”
It also stresses “that counter-terrorism operations do not absolve parties to armed conflicts of their obligations under international humanitarian law, including their obligation to distinguish between civilian populations and combatants.”
FILE – In this Oct. 13, 2018, file photo, a fighter of Syrian opposition stands at a checkpoint in northwestern city of Idlib, Syria. The U.N. Security Council is facing rival resolutions calling for a cease-fire in Syria’s last rebel stronghold in Idlib, “to avoid a further deterioration of the already catastrophic humanitarian situation.”
And it urges all parties to the Syrian conflict to distinguish between civilians and combatants, to apply the principle of “proportionality,” and to take all feasible precautions “to avoid and in any event minimize harm to civilians and civilian objects.”
The China-Russia draft resolution makes no mention of counter-terrorism operations but would reiterate the council’s demand for all parties to comply with international law and allow access to people in need, and to immediately cease all attacks against civilians and medical and humanitarian personnel.
It also calls for all parties to “demilitarize” hospitals and other civilian facilities and avoid establishing military positions in populated areas.
On Monday, the leaders of Russia, Turkey and Iran agreed to de-escalate the volatile situation in Idlib while combatting extremists and protecting civilians.