UNITED NATIONS – The U.N. Security Council began negotiations Monday on a draft resolution seeking an immediate truce in Aleppo and calling for an end to all military flights over the Syrian city, where over a quarter million people in rebel-held areas are besieged by Syrian forces.
But Russia immediately rejected any grounding of aircraft and questioned whether a resolution at this time would actually produce any results.
The resolution drafted by France and Spain also asks for a new U.N.-supervised truce monitor and threatens "further measures" should any party fail to comply with the truce.
"We consider that this is our responsibility to do absolutely everything we can do, everything humanly possible to unite the Security Council behind our efforts to end the martyrdom in Aleppo," France's U.N. Ambassador Francois Delattre said before Monday's meeting.
Russia's U.N. Ambassador Vitaly Churkin, who holds the rotating Security Council presidency for the month of October, said his country had concerns about the resolution's workability.
"The main practical thing, a new kind of innovation in that draft resolution is the idea of creating some kind of a new monitoring mechanism for the cease-fire — but there is one in Geneva and it is a mechanism which has been there for a long time and frankly has not been used very effectively," Churkin said.
Russia, which is one of five veto-holding permanent members of the Security Council, has blocked a number of resolutions on Syria.
With Russia's backing, Syrian forces have encircled the eastern half of Aleppo where continued attacks have repeatedly damaged medical facilities in violation of international law.
Churkin defended Russia's military actions in Syria in the wake of bombings of hospitals and an aid convoy, saying Russia never deliberately targeted civilians.
"Had it not been for our involvement in Syria there might be black flags flying over Aleppo," Churkin said, referring to the flag of the Islamic State group.
Human Rights Watch called on the Security Council to demand that Syria and Russia immediately halt attacks in eastern Aleppo and ensure the delivery of humanitarian aid to the several hundred thousand people trapped there.
"The Security Council should immediately adopt a resolution demanding an end to the slaughter. And Russia, itself involved in the bombing, should refrain from using its veto or risk further sullying its record as a permanent member of the council," Louis Charbonneau, U.N. director at Human Rights Watch, said in a statement.