Turkish UN envoy: Russia must immediately end aerial attacks against civilians in Syria
by Anadolu Agency
NEW YORKFeb 16, 2016 - 12:00 am GMT+3
by Anadolu Agency
Feb 16, 2016 12:00 am
Turkey's ambassador to the United Nations has told the UN Security Council that Russian aerial attacks on Syrian civilians must stop.
Halit Çevik's remarks came Monday at a Security Council meeting on the role of the UN charter for the maintenance of peace, in which representatives from more than 70 nations took turns delivering speeches.
Çevik said the UN itself had recorded that hospitals and schools in northern Syria had been hit by Russian fire, as Moscow props up the regime of Bashar al-Assad.
He told delegates there should be an "immediate end to all attacks against civilians, including indiscriminate aerial bombardments".
Accusing Russia and the Syrian government of being responsible for "gross violations of international law with their attacks against Syrian civilians", Çevik accused Moscow's intervention of creating a new wave of refugees in the region.
"It is the same member of this Council that has recently caused a new wave of massive displacement due to its continued aerial bombardments especially in north and northwest Syria.
"Those responsible for such abhorrent violations of international law are not in a position to lecture anyone," Çevik said.
"The Syrian regime continues to resort to all means to prolong its grip on power, keeps employing all instruments of force and violence available to itself, be it chemical weapons, barrel bombs, ballistic missiles, targeted killings, arbitrary detentions, torture, systematic abuse, starvation and forced displacement," Çevik added.
He also raised concern about intensified Russian aerial bombardments targeting civilians in Syria, noting that such airstrikes had targeted hospitals and schools in the past 24 hours.
The UN says up to 50 civilians, including children, were killed in attacks against five hospitals and two schools in Aleppo and Idlib on Monday.
- Attacks on Turkey
Çevik also said Turkey had been facing national security threats and attacks emanating from Syria since the start of the conflict, including from terrorist organizations there.
"Over the course of the past few days, the Turkish armed forces have taken retaliatory measures, in conformity with the established rules of engagement and international law, in response to attacks towards Turkey from Syrian soil," he said, referring to recent shelling from PYD positions in Syria's north.
Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu has said that the army returned artillery fire after having come under attack from PYD forces based around Azaz in northern Syria on Saturday.
The PYD is the Syrian affiliate of the terrorist PKK organization, which resumed its 30-year armed campaign last July.
- Security Council reform
Çevik said "impunity" caused by for Security Council failings was the main factor behind the Syrian regime's indiscriminate attacks on its own people.
Appeals for a reformed Security Council were "more than rhetoric" and are "key for the paradigm shift that is urgently needed to put an end to this impunity," Turkey's ambassador said.
"This inaction is the main factor that encourages those who do not refrain from constantly breaching the provisions of the [maintenance of peace] charter, to the point of waging war against their own people", he added.
The structure of the 15-member Council is facing criticism for the overriding influence of its five permanent members, whose national interests regularly block action in humanitarian crises, most recently in Syria, where a five-year-old civil war has killed more than 250,000 people.
Many have described the privileges held by the permanent members -- Britain, China, France, Russia and the U.S. -- as anachronistic and unrepresentative of the current cultural and geopolitical realities.