Nation

Russia vetoes UN resolution to halt Aleppo bombing

BEIRUT — With the key powers deeply divided, the UN Security Council on Saturday once again failed to agree on the course of action in war-ravaged Aleppo, and Syria in general.

Russia vetoed a Security Council resolution drafted by France demanding an immediate halt to the bombing of Aleppo.

A rival resolution put forward by Russia that called for a separation of moderate and extremist forces in Syria, but made no mention of a bombing halt in Aleppo, failed to get the minimum nine ‘‘yes’’ votes required for passage.

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Britain’s UN Ambassador Matthew Rycroft called the Russian resolution ‘‘a sham’’ that would do nothing to protect civilians in Aleppo.

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Russia’s last-minute introduction of its resolution Friday took Western supporters of the French draft by surprise.

In addition to vetoes, UN rules allow rival resolutions to be defeated if they don’t get the minimum nine ‘‘yes’’ votes in the 15-member Security Council. The Russian plan got four ‘‘yes’’ votes, nine ‘‘no’’ votes, and two abstentions.

Saturday’s competing votes are expected to exacerbate tensions between Moscow and the West over the Syrian conflict, which has raged for more than five years, killing more than 300,000 people.

Also on Saturday, Syrian state media and a Syria monitoring group said progovernment troops advanced in a northern district of eastern Aleppo, wrestling control from rebel fighters in their latest push into the besieged area.

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Amid intensive air raids, the forces seized the al-Awijeh district in rebel-controlled Aleppo, according to the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. The Observatory also reported clashes on the southern edge of the rebel-held area. There was no immediate word on casualties.

Hanaa Singer, UNICEF’s representative in Syria, called Saturday for an end to the violence that has beset northern Aleppo, which she said is taking a high humanitarian and psychological toll on both sides of the divided city.

UN agencies are on ‘‘standby’’ to deliver needed assistance, Singer said.

Singer said conditions in besieged Aleppo are ‘‘terribly dire,’’ with hospitals hit, doctors overwhelmed, and more than 100 children killed in bombings since Sept. 19. Conditions for thousands of displaced in the government-held part of the city are also deteriorating, with some of them being displaced up to six times in the past three years, she said.

Singer returned earlier this week from a weeklong trip to the government-held part of Aleppo, where she was visiting thousands of displaced Syrians.

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Most are crammed in makeshift shelters, mosques, parks, and churches after recently fleeing clashes on the front line between rebels and progovernment forces.

‘The violence has to stop and once the violence stops, the UN, we absolutely stand ready.’

In one case, a mother so desperate from the continuous displacement, stabbed her baby girl, thinking she would save her the misery of living on handouts and without a home, Singer said.

Western Aleppo, controlled by the government, is separated from eastern rebel-held Aleppo by a few yards, sometimes by a single plastic sheet.

Thousands of families are living in shelters in government-controlled Aleppo.

An estimated 275,000 people are living in the rebel-held part of Aleppo, with no international aid reaching the area since early July. Besides the scarce assistance, it is also difficult to assess the needs with the ever-evolving violent situation, and lack of access for international aid groups, she said.

‘‘I think we all agree, and especially if you have been so close in the area there and seeing the dire situation in the west, hearing about the horrible situation in the east, all we need now is (for) the violence to stop,’’ Singer said. ‘‘The violence has to stop and once the violence stops, the UN, we absolutely stand ready. We are ready.’’

Singer said UN plans are in place for government-held Aleppo to accommodate residents that may evacuate the besieged part of the city if a cease-fire takes effect.

According to medical charity Doctors Without Borders, hospitals in the eastern side of Syria’s Aleppo have been attacked 23 times since July, damaging all eight facilities that have not yet been shuttered or destroyed.