Residents walk through rubble in worn-torn Aleppo
Residents walk through rubble in worn-torn Aleppo Reuters

Russia on Saturday vetoed a UN draft resolution demanding an end to the bombing of Syria’s second city Aleppo, but its own rival measure on a truce in Syria's war-battered city was rejected, AFP reported.

The failure of the two resolutions deepened divisions at the Security Council between Damascus ally Moscow and the Western powers backing opposition rebels in the war.

It was the fifth time that Russia used its veto to block UN action to end the five-year war in Syria, which has claimed 300,000 lives.

As the council meeting got underway, the Syrian regime pressed its assault on rebel-held areas of Aleppo, where 125,000 people are living under siege and facing almost-daily heavy bombing.

French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault urged the council to take immediate action to save Aleppo from being destroyed by the Russia-backed Syrian bombing campaign.

"What is at stake today is first and foremost the fate of Aleppo and its people," Ayrault was quoted as having told the council.

"But it's more than that -- it's the hope of establishing at last an end to a conflict for which we are all, all of us, paying the catastrophic consequences," he added.

Ayrault said the council "must demand immediate action in order to save Aleppo."

In a message directed at Russia, Ayrault said any country that opposes the French measure will "give Bashar al-Assad the possibility of killing even more."

The draft resolution presented by France called for an end to all military flights over Aleppo and to the aerial bombardments that have escalated since the Syrian army launched an offensive last month.

Syria announced an all-out offensive for Aleppo on September 22, shortly after a ceasefire brokered by the United States and Russia fell apart.

This past week, however, the Syrian military said it would "reduce" air strikes on rebel territory to allow civilians in the city to flee.

The draft resolution voted upon on Saturday won 11 votes in favor in the 15-member Security Council, but Russia and Venezuela voted against. China, which had in the past backed Russia to block resolutions on Syria, abstained, as did Angola.

Shortly after the Russian veto, the Security Council rejected the rival draft presented by Moscow by a vote of nine against, four in favo1r and two abstentions.

Britain, France and the United States voted against the Russian measure that called for a ceasefire but did not mention a halt in the air strikes.

Russian Ambassador Vitaly Churkin, who holds the council presidency, said the two votes represented "one of the strangest spectacles" at the Security Council because all 15 members knew from the outset that they would fail.

"This waste of time is inadmissible," said Churkin.

British Ambassador Matthew Rycroft described it as "a bad day for Russia, but an even worse day for the people of Aleppo."

China, Egypt, Russia and Venezuela voted in favor of the Russian measure, while Angola and Uruguay abstained.

Following the meeting, Churkin insisted that diplomatic efforts on Syria were not dead.

"No, no, no," he said when asked if this was the end of diplomacy on Syria, adding, "It's just the end of one very weird meeting of the Security Council."

Assad this week warned rebels in Aleppo that unless they agreed to a deal with the government, his forces would have "no option" but to expel them from the city.

Speaking on Danish television, the Syrian president said the "best option" for Aleppo would be "reconciliations (like) in other areas," referring to towns and districts where opposition groups had agreed to local truces with the regime.

Otherwise, he said, he would "continue the fight with the rebels till they leave Aleppo.... There's no other option."

AFP contributed this report.

Did you find a mistake in the article or inappropriate advertisement? Report to us