Negotiations over draft resolution on Syria delays UN Security Council vote as death toll in Eastern Ghouta escalates.
The UN Security Council is expected to meet to vote on a draft resolution seeking a 30-day ceasefire in Syria, as the death toll in the besieged rebel enclave of Eastern Ghouta continues to rise.
The meeting, however, has already been delayed multiple times as negotiations continue over the wording of the draft resolution.
The vote on the resolution, drafted by Sweden and Kuwait, had originally been scheduled for 11am local time (16:00 GMT) on Friday.
Al Jazeera’s Diplomatic Editor James Bays, reporting from the UN headquarters in New York, said the ongoing delay was due to a disagreement between Russia and other Security Council members over the latest version of the resolution.
“There were certainly changes made [to the resolution] on Thursday after the Security Council meeting,” he said.
“They [Security Council members] changed some of the language.”
Changes made altered the wording from UNSC “decisions to demands”, shifting the resolution towards a call for something to happen as opposed to deciding it should, our correspondent said.
Calls for a ceasefire
Sergey Lavrov, Russia’s foreign minister, said on Friday that Moscow was ready to support a resolution on Syria, but that [the resolution] does not guarantee a ceasefire, Interfax news agency reported.
Nikki Haley, the US ambassador to the UN, has urged the Security Council to pass a resolution including a ceasefire plan.
“It’s time to take immediate action in the hopes of saving the lives of the men, women, and children who are under attack by the barbaric Assad regime,” she said on Wednesday.
More than 400 people have been killed in Eastern Ghouta since Sunday, according to The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR), as Syrian government forces backed by Russian warplanes continue their aerial bombardment of the Damascus suburb.
Staffan de Mistura, the UN special envoy for Syria, stressed the urgent need for a ceasefire in comments made before Thursday’s Security Council meeting.
“The humanitarian situation in Eastern Ghouta is appalling and, therefore, we need a ceasefire that stops both the horrific heavy bombardment of Eastern Ghouta and the indiscriminate mortar shelling on Damascus,” he said.
He added the ceasefire needs to be followed by immediate, unhindered humanitarian access and a facilitated evacuation of wounded people out of Eastern Ghouta.
Antonio Guterres, the UN secretary-general, has appealed for an immediate suspension of “all war activities in Eastern Ghouta”.
“This is a human tragedy that is unfolding in front of our eyes, and I don’t think we can let things go on happening in this horrendous way,” he said on Wednesday.
Eastern Ghouta, the last remaining rebel-held area near Damascus, has been under siege by government forces since 2013. It is home to about 400,000 people.
Hundreds of thousands of people have died in fighting during Syria’s seven-year civil war, and millions have fled the country.
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