Moscow blocked a U.N. Security Council meeting that sought to discuss the human rights situation in Syria. Russia, which was backed by China, Bolivia and Kazakhstan, said there was no justification for the meeting, which was expected to include a briefing from the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein – a strong critic of Moscow and Damascus on the latest developments in the rebel-held enclave of eastern Ghouta. “We do not see any justification for this meeting, since human rights is not a subject on the agenda of the security council. In Geneva, there is the Human Rights Council working and the very presence of Mr. Ra’ad al-Hussein in New York is not a convincing reason as to why he should speak and brief the security council, just the fact that he is here,” Deputy Russian Ambassador to the U.N. Gennady Kuzmin said.
France, together with the United States, the United Kingdom, Sweden, Poland, the Netherlands, Kuwait and Peru, called for the meeting, in what the French ambassador claimed, ‘aimed at providing the security council with all necessary information to understand the crisis.’ “France and six other members of the council asked for this briefing. It is for methodological reasons and for reasons of substance. For methodology reasons firstly, to respond. Our council needs to have all necessary information to understand the crisis that it is examining, including those pertaining to human rights. And this is particularly the case in Syria,” French Ambassador to the U.N. Francois Delattre said.
Following the meeting, the Syrian Ambassador to the United Nations said the enemies of Damascus have failed miserably in the face of Russia and China, which he referred to as “the voice of reason and wisdom.” With regard to the capture of the northern Syrian city of Afrin by Turkish forces alongside Syrian rebels, Ambassador Ja’afari claimed Ankara’s invasion of Syria was conducted with the blessing of Washington, claiming the dispute between the United States and Turkey was merely for show. “After controlling the city center of Afrin yesterday, we completed the most important phase of operation ‘Olive Branch’. Now we will continue this process with Manbij, Ayn al-Arab and Ras al-Ain and Qamishli until we remove all off this corridor,” Bashar Ja’afari, Syrian Ambassador to the U.N.
The comments by the Syrian U.N. Ambassador came after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced that Ankara’s operation in Syria is far from complete, as the Turkish military together with its local allies will continue battling the Kurdish militias further east. “After controlling the city center of Afrin yesterday, we completed the most important phase of operation ‘Olive Branch’. Now we will continue this process with Manbij, Ayn al-Arab and Ras al-Ain and Qamishli until we remove all off this corridor,” Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said.
President Erdogan also warned the Iraqi central government that unless it would deal with Kurdish militants belonging to the internationally recognized terror group PKK, the Turkish military would have no other choice but to invade northern Iraq to eradicate the threat.
Erdogan’s warning came after Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi agreed to lift a ban on international air traffic to the Kurdish Region last week, after the Kurdistan Regional Government acceded to pressures – and turned over control of its international airports to federal authorities.