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Russia has own UN resolution amid Syria debate

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Vitaly Churkin, Russia’s ambassador to the United Nations (UN)

Moscow has urged the United Nations (UN) to adopt a Russian-drafted resolution targeting propaganda used by extremist groups to radicalize people around the world.

In 2005, the UN Security Council, of which Russia is a member, had passed a resolution calling for measures to “prohibit by law incitement to commit a terrorist act or acts” and to “prevent such conduct.”

On Monday, however, Russia’s UN Ambassador Vitaly Churkin announced Moscow’s proposal, saying, “The nature of the threat has changed dramatically” and that an updated resolution was needed.

He added that the Russian proposal was “aimed at countering terrorist ideology and violent extremist ideology” and was floating a UN role in implementation and international cooperation, the exchange of information, and assistance in tackling the issue.

At the same time, the envoy said, the world had to form a united front, especially across the cyber world, against such vicious groups as al-Qaeda, al-Nusra Front, and Daesh.

Daesh unleashed a campaign of terror in Syria and Iraq in 2014. Syria had already found itself in the grips of a foreign-backed militancy three years before, while, in Iraq, the rise of the group was largely attributed to the chaos that followed the US’s 2003 invasion in the name of “war on terror.”

Militants rest during clashes with government forces in Ramussa, on the southwestern edges of Syria’s northern city of Aleppo, August 6, 2016. (Photo by AFP)

Dismissing France draft resolution

Churkin, the Russian UN envoy, also dismissed a proposal forwarded by France to the Council a day earlier for a renewed ceasefire in the northwestern Syrian city of Aleppo and a ban on overflights.

“I’m not even sure many other Council members would like to see a resolution on cessation of hostilities that has no chance of working,” he said. “If the only effect of that resolution is that the secretary general will start thinking of some monitoring mechanism, which is not going to work in the first place, then there is not much sense in having that resolution.”

The official, meanwhile, said what had to be prioritized was the fight against extremists.

Russia and the United States had mediated a truce in Syria, which ended last month. It did manage to bring about relative calm, but violence began to creep back later when a US-led airstrike killed more than 80 Syrian soldiers, who had been fighting the Takfiri terrorists in the eastern parts of the country.

Damascus says Washington deliberately targeted the Syrian soldiers. The US says it happened by mistake.

The US and dozens of its allies have been conducting an aerial bombardment campaign targeting alleged Daesh positions in Syria and Iraq since 2014, without achieving much.

Trading diplomatic barbs

Also on Monday, Russia’s Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova reacted to an earlier move by the US to suspend participation in bilateral channels with Moscow over Syria, calling the decision regrettable.

“We regret this decision by Washington to curtail the work of the specialist groups in Geneva to withdraw their experts and to limit contacts only to the area of avoiding any conflicts,” Zakharova said.

The US had accused Russia of not living up to its commitments under the ceasefire agreement by stepping up airstrikes in Aleppo.

Zakharova said Washington was trying to shift responsibility for the failure of the ceasefire to Russia.

“Washington simply did not fulfill the key condition of the agreement to improve the humanitarian condition around Aleppo,” she said.

The conflict in Syria has killed over 400,000 people, according to an earlier estimate by UN Syria envoy Staffan de Mistura.

‘S-300 deployed to Tartus’

Meanwhile, US broadcaster Fox News cited “three US officials” as saying exclusively to the channel that Russia had deployed advanced S-300 anti-missile systems to its naval base in Syria’s Tartus “for the first time.”

There has been no official confirmation of the claim from Moscow.

On the ground in Syria

In a separate development, anti-Damascus militants carried out mortar attacks against the northwestern province of Aleppo and the southwestern city of Dara’a in Syria, killing 10 people.

The official Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA) said the first attack mostly killed and injured women and children, while the so-called Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the second one killed a pregnant woman and three children among others.

SANA also reported that 20 Takfiri terrorists had been killed in Dara’a in government operations on the ground.

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