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UN Takes No Action on Syria After Arguments Erupt Over Aleppo, Western Ambassadors Walk Out

by Reuters and Associated Press /  / Updated 
Image: SYRIA-CONFLICT
A Syrian man walks past a bus set ablaze following a reported airstrike Sunday in the rebel-held Salaheddin district of Aleppo.Ameer Alhalbi / AFP - Getty Images

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Even as dozens more died in Aleppo, Syria, an emergency session of the U.N. Security Council in New York City ended with no action having been taken as Russia clashed openly with representatives from the United States, Britain and France.

All three Western powers heaped blame Sunday on Moscow for supporting the offensive by its close ally, Syrian President Bashar Assad. And when Syrian Ambassador Bashar Ja'afari was called to speak, all three ambassadors walked out of the council chamber in protest.

"What Russia is sponsoring and doing is not counterterrorism. It is barbarism," Samantha Power, the U.S. ambassador, told the 15-member council earlier in the day.

Related: Turkey's Erdogan: Assad Is Responsible for Aid-Convoy Attack

"Instead of pursuing peace, Russia and Assad make war," Power said. "Instead of helping get lifesaving aid to civilians, Russia and Assad are bombing the humanitarian convoys, hospitals and first responders who are trying desperately to keep people alive."

Image: A Syrian boy awaits treatment at a make-shift hospital in Aleppo Saturday.
A Syrian boy awaits treatment at a makeshift hospital in Aleppo.Karam al-Masri / AFP - Getty Images

The Security Council met at the request of the United States, Britain and France to discuss the escalation of fighting in Aleppo following the announcement Thursday of an offensive by the Syrian army to retake the city.

The arguments came on the same day that at least 26 civilians were killed in renewed government airstrikes on Aleppo.

Staffan de Mistura, Secretary-General Ban-ki Moon's special envoy to Syria, said Syria's declaration of a military offensive to retake rebel-held eastern Aleppo had led to one of the worst weeks of the 5½-year war. with dozens of airstrikes against residential areas and buildings killing scores of civilians.

Image: SYRIA-CONFLICT
A Syrian man walks past a bus set ablaze following a reported airstrike Sunday in the rebel-held Salaheddin district of Aleppo.Ameer Alhalbi / AFP - Getty Images

Ibrahim Alhaj of the Syrian Civil Defense search and rescue organization said hospitals and rescuers had documented the deaths of 43 people so far.

Hospitals are overwhelmed with casualties, and medical workers are expecting many of the wounded to die from a lack of treatment, according to Mohammad Zein Khandaqani, a member of the Medical Council, which oversees medical affairs in the city's opposition quarters.

A Sept. 9 cease-fire deal between U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov effectively collapsed last Monday when an aid convoy was bombed.

Russia's U.N. ambassador, Vitaly Churkin, blamed Syrian rebels for sabotaging the cease-fire by shoring up their forces. And he accused the Western coalition of failing to separate the moderate forces it backs from "terrorist" groups, including the al-Qaida-linked Fatah Sham Front.

"In Syria hundreds of armed groups are being armed, the territory of the country is being bombed indiscriminately and bringing a peace is almost an impossible task now because of this," he said.

But he told the council that Russia still wants a cease-fire, along with renewed negotiations between the Syrian parties.

Related: Aleppo Airstrikes: UN Says Two Million People Now Without Water

France's U.N. ambassador, Francois Delattre, said immediate implementation of the cease-fire agreement"is our only hope."

However, Russia has one of five veto votes on the council, along with the United States, France, Britain and China. Russia and China have protected Assad's government by blocking several attempts at council action.

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