Illusive concept of Syrian ‘moderates’ failed despite financing & propaganda – Churkin

Illusive concept of Syrian ‘moderates’ failed despite financing & propaganda – Churkin
Hijacked by armed extremists, the so-called moderate opposition has effectively ceased to exist in Syria, Russia's UN ambassador told the General Assembly. The forum was passing a resolution calling for the cessation of hostilities in the war-torn country.

On Friday, the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) voted 122 to 13 on a non-binding resolution demanding the cessation of hostilities in Syria. The document calls for a “complete end to all attacks on civilians” in addition to “rapid, safe, sustained, unhindered and unconditional humanitarian access” throughout Syria.

READ MORE: East Aleppo civilians report torture, executions by ‘moderate opposition’ - Russian military

While the resolution only carries political weight, the US seized the opportunity to bash both Russia and Syria for the ongoing operation to get rid of extremists in Aleppo and save the lives of thousands of Syrians living under their control.

“This is a vote to stand up and tell Russia and Assad to stop the carnage,” US Ambassador Samantha Power told the assembly. “This is a vote to defend the bedrock principles of how states should act, even in war.”

READ MORE: Kerry says rebels rejected Syria ceasefire in 2015

Speaking to delegates at UNGA, the Russian ambassador to the UN explained that the Canadian resolution contained “serious flaws,” making it “impossible” for Russia to support it.

“The causes of the conflict’s genesis and evolution have been misidentified. The blame is mostly pinned on the authorities of the country. The terrorist threat and the role of foreign sponsors in perpetuating and augmenting it are outlined only in broad strokes,” Churkin said.

“Condemnations will not help to reach a specified goal,” in Syria, the Russian ambassador proclaimed, pinning the scale of destruction in Syria on an “aggressive form of colonialism” pursued by countries which supported the so-called moderate opposition.

“It is a result of the mindless foreign policy of several international and regional players who once decided to change the leadership in Damascus and to redraw drastically the political, ethnic, confessional, and economic map of the region,” Churkin said.

But despite having “extensive financial, logistical, and propaganda support” from the outside, “the elusive concept of 'moderate Syrian opposition' has effectively failed,” the Russian diplomat said.

Russia, according to Churkin, on the other hand poured "enormous efforts" – humanitarian, political and military – into helping stop the war and aiding with a transition to direct UN-sponsored settlement negotiations.

Churkin said that Russia, at the request of the legitimate Syrian government, is fighting terrorists who are “pouring into the country through all the cracks in order to fulfill their instructions to overthrow the legitimate authorities.”

Accusations that Russia impedes progress in the settlement of the Syrian conflict at the UN Security Council just “distort reality,” Churkin said.

“If consensus sometimes eludes us on a document – as you know, last time this happened on December 5 – it means that document was not balanced, inadequately drafted, and served goals far removed from the settlement. And noisy shows in front of the TV cameras are a sign of admission that the chosen confrontational policy is futile,” Churkin said.

The envoy told the world forum that Moscow has been working “tirelessly” with the US and other parties to come up with the most efficient solution to end the conflict, pointing to recent meetings between Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and John Kerry on December 2 and 7. Another Russia-US expert level meeting is scheduled to take place on Saturday.

On Friday the Russian General Staff announced that the Syrian Army now controls 93 percent of the whole territory of Aleppo after Damasus secured 52 districts of eastern Aleppo from militants.

The Russian General Staff also cited Aleppo's residents’ reports of torture, and public executions by the so-called “moderate opposition.”

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Back at UNGA, Churkin, addressing what he termed the “aggressive rhetoric” of the US Ambassador, said that Power's focus on Aleppo should be shifted to addressing America's shortcomings in mediating the settlement of the conflict.

Churkin stressed that it was the US delegation that repudiated Kerry’s offer on Aleppo, delivered to Lavrov on December 2. It was also the United States that canceled the subsequent expert meeting proposed by Kerry and Lavrov. Instead of moving forward with that initiative the American UN team engaged in a “useless propaganda show at the UN Security Council.”

“Rather than spreading propaganda cliches on Aleppo, the United States delegation should better address what is happening under the American leadership around Mosul, what happened under the leadership of the United States in Fallujah,” Churkin said, criticizing Washington’s “disastrous policies” in Iraq, Libya, and Syria.