West rejects Russia push against Turkey over Syria

Paris rejects Russian UN draft resolution to end Turkish cross-border shelling in Syria, as US gives Ankara its backing.

Western powers have rejected a proposed UN resolution drawn up by Russia that demanded the immediate halt of cross-border shelling by the Turkish army into Syria.

The Russian draft presented at an emergency security council meeting on Friday sought to “cease any actions that undermine Syria’s sovereignty”.

When asked whether he supported the move, Francois Delattre, France’s UN ambassador, replied: “The short answer is no,” the Associated Press news agency reported.

Delattre said the current military escalation was “the direct result of the brutal offensive in the north of Syria led by the Syrian regime and its allies”.

He said Russia must understand that its support for Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad is “a dead end that could be extremely dangerous”.


Samantha Power, the US ambassador, called the Russian draft “a distraction”, and urged the Russians instead to implement a resolution adopted unanimously by the Security Council in December endorsing a peace plan for Syria that includes a cessation of hostilities and negotiations between the Assad government and opposition.

The Kremlin said it regretted the rejection of the resolution and that it would continue to protect Syria’s sovereignty.

“We can only express regret that this draft resolution was rejected,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said.

“Russia naturally continues with its consistent, transparent and clear line to provide stability in the fight with terrorism, to preserve the territorial integrity of the country [Syria] and the region.”

The draft resolution comes amid heightened tensions between Russia and Turkey over the former’s backing of a Syrian regime and the Syrian Kurdish armed group Peoples’ Protection Unit (YPG) advance against rebel territory bordering Turkey.

Turkey has responded to the offensive, which is backed by Russian fighter jets, by shelling Syrian army and YPG positions.

Intervention in Syria

Turkey has proposed military intervention in Syria to counter the threat posed to it by Kurdish groups and the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) group.

The YPG’s advance on rebel positions north of Aleppo has also strained ties with Turkey’s NATO allies in Washington. Kurdish groups taking on ISIL are funded, supplied and trained by the US.

Turkey’s presidency said US President Barack Obama had shared his concerns over the Syrian conflict and promised his support on Friday, hours after a tense exchange between the two NATO allies over the role of Kurdish fighters.

In a phone conversation that lasted one hour and 20 minutes, Ankara said Obama had told his counterpart President Recep Tayyip Erdogan that Turkey had a right to self-defence, and expressed worries over advances by Syrian Kurdish militias near Turkey’s border.

Speaking in Istanbul before the phone call on Friday, Erdogan said he was saddened by the West’s refusal to call the PYD and its military wing, the YPG, “terrorist groups”.

Turkey accuses the YPG of being behind a bombing that left at least 28 people dead in its capital Ankara on Wednesday.

Russia Deputy UN Ambassador Vladimir Safronkov holds a press briefing after attending closed Security Council meetings on Syria [AP/Bebeto Matthews]
Russia Deputy UN Ambassador Vladimir Safronkov holds a press briefing after attending closed Security Council meetings on Syria [AP/Bebeto Matthews]
Source: News Agencies