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Middle East

Russia, China block UN resolution for Aleppo ceasefire

Moscow has rejected the UN Security Council resolution for a ceasefire, citing a pending agreement with Washington, a Russian official said. But an American diplomat described the claim as a "made up alibi."

Russia and China on Monday blocked a UN Security Council resolution aimed at establishing a seven-day ceasefire in the besieged city of Aleppo in Syria.

Sponsored by Egypt, Spain and New Zealand, the resolution demanded that conflicting parties in Aleppo cease "any and all attacks in the city of Aleppo."

Russia, a key ally to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's regime, expressed doubts over the text in the run-up to the vote.

Moscow had called for the vote to take place on Tuesday to give time for Russian and American officials to meet in Geneva. The meeting reportedly concerns a deal to allow rebels in the besieged city to withdraw, which Syrian opposition forces have outright rejected.

Vitaly Churkin, Russia's ambassador to the UN, said that Washington and Moscow "are close to an agreement on the basic elements."

'Made up alibi'

However, deputy US envoy Michele Sison said that Churkin's claim of an agreement was a "made up alibi."

"We will not let Russia string along the Security Council while waiting for a compromise that never seems to come," Sison said. "We will continue bilateral negotiations (with Russia) to relieve the suffering in Aleppo, but we have no reached a breakthrough because Russia wants to keep its military gains."

Moscow has blocked a total of six Security Council resolutions on Syria, while Beijing has vetoed five.

Russian forces joined the multifaceted conflict in September 2015, launching airstrikes against terrorist groups in a bid to strengthen Assad's regime. However, US-backed opposition forces have been targeted in the aerial campaign, according to rebel groups.

More than 300,000 people have been killed and half the population displaced since the conflict erupted in 2011, when government forces launched a brutal crackdown on peaceful protesters calling for Assad to step down.

ls/bw (AP, AFP)

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