BEIRUT – The Latest on developments in Syria (all times local):
A main Syrian opposition group is calling on the international community to prevent Russia from voting on a new U.N. Security Council resolution saying Moscow is part of the conflict in the Arab country.
Russia has been a main backer for Syrian President Bashar Assad and has joined the battle on his side since 2015 tipping the balance of power in his favor. Opposition activists say Russian warplanes are taking part in bombarding rebel-held eastern suburbs of the capital Damascus, also known as eastern Ghouta, where more than 400 people have been killed since Sunday.
Salwa Aksoy, vice president of the Syrian National Coalition, told reporters in Turkey that according to the United Nations charter countries that are part of a conflict have no right to vote on draft resolutions.
Sweden and Kuwait were seeking a vote on a resolution ordering a 30-day cease-fire to allow relief agencies to deliver aid and evacuate the critically sick and wounded from besieged areas to receive medical care.
But Russia's U.N. ambassador Vassily Nebenzia put forward last-minute amendments, saying the proposed resolution was "simply unrealistic." A new vote was likely Friday.
Aksoy said in Turkey Friday that "what is happening in Ghouta is a war of annihilation and crimes against humanity." She blamed Assad's government as well as his backers Russia and Iran for the violence.
She said over the past three months more than 2,000 civilians have been killed, nearly 5,000 wounded and 32 medical centers and clinics have been destroyed.
Human Rights Watch is criticizing the way Turkey is conducting its offensive in northern Syria, saying it has failed to take necessary precautions to avoid civilian casualties.
The New York-based group cites three attacks in the Afrin region in late January that it says killed a total of 26 civilians, including 17 children.
In a statement Friday, it called on Turkey to thoroughly investigate these strikes and make the findings public.
Turkey launched an air and ground offensive in the Kurdish-controlled region on Jan. 20, saying it aims to clear Afrin of Syrian Kurdish militia which Turkey considers to be an offshoot of its own outlawed Kurdish rebels fighting within Turkey.
According to several estimates around 120 civilians have been killed so far in the offensive. Turkey denies hitting civilians.