Security Council Meeting on the Protection of civilians in armed conflict, Protection of journalists Letter dated 3 July 2013 from the Chargé d’affaires a.i. of the United States Mission to the United Nations addressed to the Secretary-General (S/2013/393). Speaking: DSG Jan Eliasson

UN votes to monitor the evacuation in Aleppo

The United Nations security council agreed on a draft resolution aimed at ensuring that UN officials can monitor evacuations from the Syrian city of Aleppo. The council had been scheduled to vote on a French draft yesterday, but Russia circulated a rival text after raising concerns about sending in UN officials unprepared to monitor the protection of civilians who remain in the last rebel-districts of eastern Aleppo, which has been under siege for years.  The U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, Samantha Power, told reporters that the council expected to “vote unanimously” for the new text.

“Text contains all of the elements for safe, secure, dignified evacuation for humanitarian access into those who choose to remain in eastern Aleppo and a real emphasis on protection which is all of what has been missing in Syria throughout the life of this conflict.” / “The text requests the Secretary General to get the monitors in. Inevitably when you’re in a war zone there are a number of elements who are on the ground who, you know, need to be engaged. That was true of the French text. That’s true of the text now with a few modifications so nothing has changed on that point,” said Power.

Syrian government officials allowed some civilians to return to Aleppo’s historic citadel for the first time in four years after it has succeeded in conquering the rebel held districts in the city. Pro-Assad forces defended the citadel during the civil war, and the Syrian Government says it is now assessing the damage to the UNESCO world heritage listed site, and had pledged to repair the damage. Some of the residents who returned to the citadel were emotional when assessing the damage.

“I was afraid to come, but they encouraged me and brought me here. I did not find anything. If the citadel was not with the army you would have seen it more damaged,” said Mariana Al-Hanash, Syrian citizen. / “They damaged our childhood memories. We used to come and play football when we were kids. Here there was a mosque, they destroyed it. People used to come from Europe to see it. They did not leave anything, just ruins of childhood memories. They did not leave anything,” said Abdul Salam Berry, Syrian citizen.

Restoring full control over Aleppo, Syria’s most populous city before the war, has been seen as the most significant victory of President Bashar Assad, with the rebels losing their last major urban-stronghold. Famous for textiles, soap and its UNESCO-listed citadel, Aleppo was Syria’s economic hub and of huge historic and cultural importance.