Nato defends decision to stay out of Syria war
December 19 2016 01:42 AM
Buses burn after they were attacked in Idlib province in Syria yesterday. The buses were on their way to evacuate ill and injured people from the besieged Syrian villages of al-Foua and Kefraya when they were attacked.


Nato chief Jens Stoltenberg yesterday defended the alliance’s decision to refrain from stepping into the war in Syria, saying doing so would only make matters worse.
All 28 Nato members belong to the US-led coalition battling the Islamic State group but they are not directly involved in the Syrian conflict.
“We are experiencing in Syria a horrible human catastrophe. Sometimes it is right to deploy militarily - such as in Afghanistan,” Stoltenberg told Bild am Sonntag.
“But sometimes the costs of a military operation is higher than its benefit. Looking at Syria, Nato partners came to the conclusion that a military deployment would only make a terrible situation worse,” he said.
“We would risk turning it into a bigger regional conflict. Or more innocent people could die. A military deployment is not always the solution,” he warned.
The West has come under fire from some quarters over its failure to halt the carnage in Syria.
Trapped civilians and rebels in besieged Aleppo were yesterday waiting desperately for evacuations to resume, as the UN Security Council was due to vote on sending observers to the flashpoint city.
France is pushing for the monitors, arguing that an international presence would prevent Aleppo from turning into another Srebrenica, where thousands of Bosnian men and boys were massacred in 1995 when the town fell to Bosnian Serb forces during the Balkan wars.
However Russia warned it would use its veto to block the drafted resolution, setting up yet another showdown with the West over the fate of the besieged Syrian city.
Moscow presented a rival draft resolution during a closed-door meeting of the Security Council that requests that the United Nations make “arrangements” to monitor the situation.
But the Russian proposal makes no specific mention of sending observers to Aleppo.
“We believe quite simply that what they are proposing is unworkable and dangerous,” Russian Ambassador Vitaly Churkin told reporters about the French proposal.
“We cannot allow it to pass because this is a disaster,” said Churkin ahead of the meeting.
Russia, Syria’s main ally in the nearly six-year war, has vetoed six resolutions on Syria since the conflict began in March 2011.
French Ambassador Francois Delattre, who met with Churkin on Saturday, said he was not ready to compromise on his proposal, suggesting that the Russian draft resolution would be blocked by the Western powers.
Churkin said it would be “reckless” for UN chief Ban ki Moon to send observers to east Aleppo under the French proposal because their safety could not be ensured.
“He cannot tell his people just to march into a ruined city - and do what?” he said.
“There are various groups who are fighting there, maybe there are some terrorists still lurking in the ruins of eastern Aleppo,” he added.
Both the French and Russian draft resolutions demand immediate access for deliveries of humanitarian aid to Aleppo, which has been under siege since July.
France and the United States have said they would be ready to call for an emergency special session of the General Assembly if Russia again blocks UN action on Syria.
Such a session, a rare occurrence at the United Nations, would be aimed at declaring global condemnation of Russia’s actions in Syria, although resolutions adopted by the General Assembly are non-binding.
Syrian forces this week moved to assert full control over the east of the city, which had been held by opposition fighters since 2012.
Evacuations that were halted on Friday were expected to resume yesterday under a new deal that would allow civilians and fighters in four other besieged towns to leave.
Hundreds of civilians, including scores of children, have died in east Aleppo during the latest round of fighting.
Nationwide, more than 310,000 people have been killed since the Syrian conflict began.

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