France and Britain on Friday called for an end to the Russian and Syrian bombing campaign over Aleppo as the UN Security Council began an emergency meeting on the crisis in Syria.
“The top priority is to stop the bloodbath in Aleppo,” French Ambassador Francois Delattre told reporters as he headed into the council chamber for the closed-door talks.
“The most important thing here is that the outrageous aerial bombardment of eastern Aleppo must stop,” added British Ambassador Matthew Rycroft.
The urgent talks at the Security Council were requested by Russia after UN envoy Staffan de Mistura warned that Aleppo could be totally destroyed in the coming months and proposed a plan to allow jihadist fighters to leave the city.
Delattre said these were “interesting proposals” but that they would only work if there is a ceasefire in Aleppo.
“As we speak, Aleppo is still under (a) barrage of fire,” he said.
“Aleppo is to Syria what Guernica was to the Spanish war, a human tragedy, a black hole destroying all we believe in, also the harbinger of many more disasters to come,” he added.
The Spanish town of Guernica was devastated in 1937, and more than 1,000 civilians killed, when Nazi warplanes bombed it in support of the dictator Francisco Franco.
The British ambassador echoed De Mistura’s view that the bombing raids over Aleppo were indiscriminately being carried out in a city of 275,000 people to flush out only a few hundred jihadists.
“This is not about stamping terrorism, this is about killing civilians,” said Rycroft.
“We are all in favor of fighting terrorism in Syria but the biggest single killer of innocent civilians in Syria is the Syrian regime, the second biggest killer of innocent civilians in Syria is Russia and only the third biggest killer is Al-Qaeda, Al-Nusra and other terrorists.”
Security Council members have been discussing for a week a French-drafted UN resolution calling for a ceasefire in Aleppo.
“We are close to the moment of truth,” Delattre said, suggesting a vote on the proposal could happen soon.
The draft resolution, which calls for ending the bombardments and barring all flights over Aleppo, could be blocked by Russia, one of the five permanent Security Council members with veto power.