UNSC divided over Aleppo but sees urgent need to separate terrorists from others – Russia UN envoy

UNSC divided over Aleppo but sees urgent need to separate terrorists from others – Russia UN envoy
While the UN Security Council members disagree on what led to the plight of Aleppo, they seem to have come to terms with the fact that the separation of opposition from terrorists is an issue of utmost importance, Vitaly Churkin said Monday.

“There is no unity of opinions among the Council’s members on the cause of the Aleppo tragedy, fierce discussions have been taking place, however I can assure you, that understanding of how important is delineation of opposition groups from terrorists has been gradually growing,” Russia’s Ambassador to the United Nations said, as cited by RIA Novosti. He added that the US has been entrusted with “direct responsibility” with regards to the task of separating fighting factions in eastern Aleppo. 

The diplomat pointed out that the need to separate “moderates” from Al-Nusra Front fighters in Aleppo is not “someone’s whim” but rather a legitimate demand referred to in the resolutions of the UN Security Council and in the decisions of the International Syria Support Group (ISSG).

Earlier on Monday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov warned western countries they risk becoming “accomplices of Al-Nusra” if they fail to put pressure on moderate rebels to part ways with the jihadists.   

Finding common ground on the Syrian crisis has been a challenging task not least because of the “blatant anti-Damascus rhetoric which has gradually turned into the anti-Russian one,” Churkin noted, as cited by Interfax, adding that the discussion of humanitarian initiatives in Aleppo fully exposed the bias against Russia.

The course of the debate “laid bare the actual reasons of escalation, inertia of thinking in some international players and shortcomings of specialized UN structures, multiplied by a not impartial stance of some UN functionaries,” he said.

READ MORE: UN failed to organize evacuation of civilians from rebel-held Aleppo – Russian envoy

“Common sense continues to be sacrificed to false geopolitical paradigms aimed at forced dismantling of statehood and the search for enemies,” he added.  

Despite the existing differences the Group’s co-chairs, Russia and the US, as well as regional powers, have been discussing “concrete schemes” to bring the protracted conflict to the end, Churkin said, reiterating Russia’s commitment to a political solution to a Syrian conflict that should be achieved through intra-Syrian talks in Geneva.

READ MORE: 'US, UK sabotage any attempts at Syria settlement' 

“We are looking forward to the moment when the UN Special Envoy for Syria Steffan de Mistura, in execution of his mandate, will announce the renewal of the Geneva process within the framework of the Resolution 2254,” the diplomat stressed.

However, no substantial progress on the road to peace in Syria can be reached without eliminating the external sources of terrorists’ funding, Churkin argues. 

“We are convinced, that without releasing information on real sources of terrorists’ funding and external support it is impossible to secure a decisive victory over Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS, ISIL),” Churkin said, adding that Russia expects a new UN Secretary General quarterly report on the threat to peace and security posed by the Islamic State to “finally shed light on the real reasons of what is happening [in Syria].”

The envoy believes that despite the severe blows the terrorists sustained in Syria and Iraq they are still capable of “spreading their influence and commit terrorist acts in the different regions of the world.”

Islamic State, while being squeezed on the ground, can still replenish its ranks with one of its most powerful weapons, that is online propaganda, on battling which the international community should also focus.

“I’m sure that the Security Council should take steps to counter terrorist propaganda, which has been spread through the world,” he said.

Earlier in October, Russia has introduced a draft resolution to UN Security Council designed “to counter terrorist ideology and the ideology of violent extremism.”