UNITED NATIONS: Russia agreed to continue such deliveries but only for six months — not a year, as several U.N. Security Council members, Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, and more than 30 nongovernmental organizations desire. The U.N. Security Council will vote on the issue on Thursday. A resolution draught by Ireland and Norway was amended by Russia to shorten the original year-long delivery deadline. In order to determine whether a compromise could be achieved, council officials said discussions were still ongoing as of late on Wednesday.
A vote was set for Thursday morning by the Security Council. The proposed resolution by Ireland and Norway to prolong cross-border deliveries for a year would be put to a vote first if no deal could be reached. A vote would be held on the Russian resolution with a six-month extension if it fell short of nine votes or was vetoed by Russia. A U.N. resolution that would have maintained two border crossing points from Turkey for the delivery of humanitarian supplies to Idlib was rejected by China and Russia at the beginning of July 2020. Days later, the council gave the go-ahead for the distribution of supplies only through Bab al-Hawa, one of those crossings. This Sunday marks the completion of the one-year mandate that was extended for another year on July 9, 2021.
According to the Russian draught acquired by The Associated Press on Wednesday, the Russian proposal asked for enhanced efforts to enable “full, safe, and unimpeded” supplies of humanitarian aid across battle lines in Syria. Additionally, it would permit the formation of “a special working group” including representatives from international humanitarian organisations, significant funders, interested regional parties, and concerned council members to “frequently examine and follow-up on the implementation of this resolution.”
Both of those suggestions were absent from the Ireland-Norway resolution draught. The main insurgent organisation in the area is Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, which has ties to al-Qaida. Northwest Idlib is the only area of Syria still controlled by rebels.
The Syrian war began in 2011, and the U.N. reported last week that more than 300,000 people were murdered in the first 10 years of the conflict – the largest official estimate of civilian deaths.
Former International Criminal Court chief prosecutor Luis Moreno Ocampo cautioned Security Council members that they “could find themselves materially supporting a U.N.-designated terrorist organisation” by approving cross-border deliveries to northwest Syria in a letter to council ambassadors that the AP obtained on Wednesday. According to him, Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, a group formerly known as Al Nusra and today connected with al Qaida, controls the northwest of Syria.
Previous U.N. Security Council resolutions forbade any support for “terrorist organisations, including humanitarian help,” Ocampo added. He asserted that the Security Council should either have the operation overseeing cross-border deliveries certify that the al Qaida-linked organisations “are not involved in implementing humanitarian aid” or remove Al Nusra-Hayat Tahrir al-Sham from the “terrorist” list to avoid a “flagrant violation” of its resolutions.