Russia said on Wednesday that it opposed a draft United Nations resolution on Syria’s use of barrel bombs promoted by France, Britain and Spain so as not to damage upcoming international talks on restoring peace in the war-torn country.
The resolution is aimed at stopping Syrian regime leader Bashar al Assad's forces from using barrel bombs against his people. Barrel bombs are steel drums full of shrapnel and explosives that are dropped from the air.
The draft, which has been circulated to some members of the UN Security Council, would be circulated to all members “in the coming days,” Britain’s UN Ambassador Matthew Rycroft said.
"I think it's important to ensure that indiscriminate bombing is stopped because it kills so many people, it terrorizes so many people and it's one of the causes of the flood of refugees and migrants out of Syria," he said.
Russia’s Deputy UN Ambassador Petr Iliichev said he has not yet seen the draft but it should not be circulated to the Security Council for now because "especially at this very delicate moment we should not jeopardize the efforts that are being undertaken in Vienna."
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov is to join his counterparts from the United States, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Iran, for the first time. Egypt, Lebanon and the European Union also said that they would attend Friday’s talks.
The talks, the most serious effort to end the Syrian conflict, will be held on Thursday and Friday in Vienna. The Syrian conflict, now in its fifth year, has left 250,000 people dead and displaced more than 10 million people, causing a huge humanitarian crisis.
France’s UN Ambassador Francois Delattre said last week that the barrel bombs are not used for defense, “they are weapons of terror.”
The resolution would prohibit the use of barrel bombs and place sanctions on those responsible for dropping the explosive devices that killed thousands of civilians, said diplomats spoke anonymously because the draft was yet to be made public.
The resolution, adopted by the Security Council in February 2014, calls on all parties in Syria to stop using barrel bombs and is being drafted under Chapter 7 of the UN Charter, which authorises the use of military force or sanctions.
Most of those killed in the war have been victims of barrel bombs dropped by regime helicopters on civilian areas. Half the country’s population has also been displaced both internally and externally, leading to the worst refugee crisis since World War II.
Repeated attacks by regime forces using barrel bombs kill thousands in Aleppo, Syria’s second largest city, alone every month. It borders Turkey and is home to about 2 million people, with large swathes under the control of opposition fighters.
Assad denied using barrel bombs but the West claimed that the explosives were dropped from helicopters and only the regime has helicopters.