UNITED NATIONS – The United Nations Security Council unanimously approved on Saturday a resolution demanding a 30-day, nationwide ceasefire in Syria to facilitate the delivery of humanitarian aid and the evacuation of those wounded or in need of medical attention due to illness.
After several days of intense negotiations, Russia, a close ally of Syria’s government, finally backed a compromise text that was approved with the support of all 15 Council members.
Introduced by Sweden and Kuwait, the resolution requires that all parties to the years-long armed conflict comply with a humanitarian ceasefire of at least 30 days across Syria.
Under the ceasefire deal, however, continued military operations will be authorized against groups regarded as terrorist organizations by the UN, including the Islamic State and Tahrir al-Sham.
The resolution states that once the ceasefire is in effect all parties must allow humanitarian convoys operated by the UN and its partners to have safe access to any area in need of assistance.
It also requires the parties to allow medical personnel to enter war-stricken areas to attend to people who are wounded or ill and to let UN personnel carry out medical evacuations when necessary.
The resolution was negotiated over a period of nearly two weeks by Council members amid growing international calls for action as Syrian government forces pounded rebel-held Eastern Ghouta, a suburb of Damascus.
Immediately after the resolution was approved, the United States’ ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley, accused Russia – one of five Security Council members with veto power – of delay tactics that resulted in greater loss of life.
“Every minute the council waited on Russia, the human suffering grew,” she said.
Haley’s Russian counterpart, Vassily Nebenzia, for his part called on the Americans to cease their “occupation” of areas of Syria that the US-led coalition has wrested away from the Islamic State terror organization.
He said at a Security Council meeting that the US was using the fight against terrorism as a shield for geopolitical objectives of dubious legitimacy.