Russia ′regrets′ UN refusal to halt Turkey cross-border shelling into Syria | News | DW | 20.02.2016
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Russia 'regrets' UN refusal to halt Turkey cross-border shelling into Syria

The Kremlin is disappointed that the UN Security Council turned down a resolution aimed at stopping cross-border shelling into Syria, officials say. France warned that an escalation could lead into 'uncharted territory.'

Russia finds Turkish border fire "unacceptable," the Kremlin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters on Saturday, after Moscow's diplomatic push to condemn the strikes failed at the UN.

The UN Security Council members considered a Russian draft proposal behind closed doors on Friday. While the document does not mention any country by name, it "strongly demands" an immediate end to cross-border fire and to any plans to send ground troops into Syria.

Veto-wielding powers France and the US immediately rejected the draft.

Turkey has been targeting Kurdish positions in north Syria

Turkey has been shelling Kurdish positions in north Syria

"We can only express our regret that this draft resolution was not supported," Peskov said in comments reported by the Tass news agency.

After the Friday meeting, the US representative Samantha Power accused Russia of trying to "distract the world" from its bombing campaign in support of the Syrian regime.

The French ambassador to the UN, Francois Delattre, said the UN was facing "a dangerous military escalation that could easily get out of control and lead us to uncharted territory."

"Russia must understand that its unconditional support to Bashar al-Assad is a dead-end and a dead-end that could be extremely dangerous," Delattre said.

However, spokesman Peskov said on Saturday that Russia was continuing to "provide assistance and help to the armed forces of Syria in their offensive actions against terrorists."

Kerry and Lavrov talk ceasefire

US Secretary of State John Kerry said that his team was "in near-constant discussions" with the Russians," on Saturday.

"We want this process to be sustainable, and should all participants prove willing to really sit down and work this out, we can get to a cessation of hostilities," he said in London, during a short stop on his way to Jordan.

Kerry talked to the Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov about a ceasefire that would exclude "operations to fight terrorist groups", Russia's Foreign Ministry said on Saturday.

Russian President Vladimir Putin also said that the Kremlin "has always attempted to solve any disputes through political and diplomatic means alone, contributed to stabilization in various countries and helped resolve bitter conflicts."

"We shall aim to do the same in this case," he added.

Missiles to 'change the balance of power'

The regional powerhouse Saudi Arabia, however, floated the idea of giving air-defense weapons to moderate rebels being hit by Russian air strikes.

"We believe that introducing surface-to-air missiles in Syria is going to change the balance of power on the ground," the Kingdom's foreign minister Adel el-Jubeir told the German weekly Der Spiegel in an interview published on Saturday.

The move must be studied carefully, "because you don't want such weapons to fall into the wrong hands," he added.

"This is a decision that the international coalition will have to make. This is not Saudi Arabia's decision," he was quoted as saying.

Opposition calls for pressure on regime allies

Major world powers had previously agreed on a truce in Syria to be implemented last week. However, none of the factions on the ground committed to it and the fighting continues unabated.

Syrien Aleppo Bombenangriff Russland

Activists accuse Russia of bombing civilians in Aleppo

On Saturday, a major Syrian opposition group announced it would be ready to implement the truce "in principle," if there are international guarantees that Iran and Russia would stick to it.

The Saudi-backed High Negotiations Committee accused Russia and the Syrian president Bashar al-Assad of "disdain for the international community and disregard for the lives of Syrians."

At the same time, the group said that any truce would require the Syrian government to lift blockades from rebel-held communities and release thousands of prisoners.

dj/jm (AFP, AP, Reuters, dpa, Interfax)

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