Moscow has vetoed a French-drafted resolution to end air strikes on Aleppo, with Russia's envoy dismissing the push as propagandist. France claims Russian air strikes have "nothing to do with combating terrorism."
Syrian regime troops are battling to push rebels out of eastern Aleppo, where some 250,000 civilians are still under siege. The bombing was destroying hospitals and schools, and killing civilians, French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault said ahead of the Saturday vote.
"If we don't so something this town (Aleppo) will soon just be in ruins and will remain in history as a town in which the inhabitants were abandoned to their executioners," Ayrault told the UN Security Council.
"If the international community does not wake up it will share the responsibility."
The draft resolution demanded an immediate end to fighting in Syria, including a halt on bombing Aleppo by Russia and the Syrian regime. It also requested unhindered humanitarian access across the war-torn country.
The air campaign "has nothing to do with combating terrorism," Ayrault said. "It is the annihilation of Aleppo."
Rival resolution a 'sham'
The document was endorsed by France, the US, the UK, and eight other members of the 15-seat council. Russia, however, used its veto to block the initiative. Venezuela also voted against it, while China and Angola abstained.
In turn, Russia proposed its own resolution based on the French draft, but with no mention of the Aleppo air raids. This push also failed after garnering only three more votes in favor from China, Venezuela and Egypt.
British ambassador to the UN Matthew Rycroft called the Russian initiative a "sham" aimed at distracting from Moscow's veto of the Western-backed resolution.
"Thanks to your actions today, Syrians will continue to lose their lives in Aleppo and beyond to Russian and Syrian bombing," he said, addressing the Kremlin. "Please stop now."
David Pressman, US Deputy Ambassador to the UN, also slammed Russia as "one of the chief purveyors of terror in Aleppo, using tactics more commonly associated with thugs than governments."
Moscow was "intent on allowing the killing to continue and, indeed, participating in carrying it out" the diplomat added, saying that "less talk and more action" was needed from Russia to stop the slaughter.
'Waste of time'
At the same time, Russia's UN ambassador Vitaly Churkin dismissed the French draft as unconstructive and aimed at achieving a propaganda effect. He also described the dual votes on Saturday as one of the "strangest spectacles in the history of the Security Council."
"Given that the crisis in Syria is at a critical stage, when it is particularly important that there be a coordination of the political efforts of the international community, this waste of time is inadmissible," Churkin told the UN body.
The Saturday vote marks the fifth time Russia has used its veto to stop a UN resolution on Syria. The previous four times Moscow was backed by China, also a veto-wielding member.
dj/lw (AFP, AP, dpa, Interfax)