Turkey’s UN envoy condemns Russian strikes against civilians

Turkey’s top diplomat to UN condemns Russian air assault against Syrian civilians, urges imminent end to indiscriminate attacks

Photo by: AA (Archive)
Photo by: AA (Archive)

Turkey’s Ambassador to the United Nations (UN) Halit Cevik speaks during a meeting with UN Security Council in an undated photo.

Turkey’s ambassador to the United Nations (UN) has told the UN Security Council that Russian air strikes on Syrian civilians must stop immediately.

Ambassador Halit Cevik's remarks came on Monday at a UN Security Council meeting on the role of the UN charter for the maintenance of peace, in which representatives from more than 70 nations took turns delivering speeches.

Cevik said the UN itself had recorded that hospitals and schools in northern Syria had been hit by Russian air strikes, as Moscow is attempting to prop up the Syrian regime leader Bashar al Assad.

He told the delegates there should be an "immediate end to all attacks against civilians, including indiscriminate aerial bombardments."

Accusing Russia and the Syrian regime of being responsible for "gross violations of international law with their attacks against Syrian civilians," Cevik accused Moscow’s intervention of creating a new wave of refugees in the region.

"It is the same member of this Council that has recently caused a new wave of massive displacement due to its continued aerial bombardments especially in north and northwest Syria,” he stated.

"Those responsible for such abhorrent violations of international law are not in a position to lecture anyone," Cevik stressed.

"The Syrian regime continues to resort to all means to prolong its grip on power, keeps employing all instruments of force and violence available to itself, be it chemical weapons, barrel bombs, ballistic missiles, targeted killings, arbitrary detentions, torture, systematic abuse, starvation and forced displacement," Cevik added.

He also raised concerns about intensified Russian aerial bombardments targeting civilians in Syria, noting that such air strikes had targeted hospitals and schools in the past 24 hours.

The UN says up to 50 civilians, including children, were killed during air strikes against five hospitals and two schools in Aleppo and Idlib on Monday.

Attacks on Turkey

Cevik also said Turkey had been facing national security threats and attacks emanating from Syria since the start of the conflict, including ones from terrorist organisations operating there.

"Over the course of the past few days, the Turkish Armed Forces have taken retaliatory measures, in conformity with the established rules of engagement and international law, in response to attacks towards Turkey from Syrian soil," he said, referring to recent shelling from YPG positions in Syria’s north.

Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said on Saturday that Turkey had struck YPG targets near the town of Azaz in northern Syria in retaliation under the Turkish Armed Forces’ rules of engagement.

Davutoglu said that the government previously warned YPG many times to withdraw from the area, which has recently been captured by the group, however, it failed to comply with the Turkish demands, shelling military outposts near the Turkish border.

YPG is the militant wing of PYD, which Turkey considers the Syrian extension of the PKK while the US considers it as an ally against DAESH.

Turkey has long been confronted with armed attacks in its southeastern and eastern regions by the PKK, which is recognised as a terrorist organisation by Turkey, the US, and the EU.

Security Council reform

Cevik said “impunity” caused by UN Security Council’s failings was the main factor behind the Syrian regime's indiscriminate attacks on its own people.

Turkey’s calls for a reformed UN Security Council structure were "more than rhetoric" and are "key for the paradigm shift that is urgently needed to put an end to this impunity," Cevik underlined.

"This inaction is the main factor that encourages those who do not refrain from constantly breaching the provisions of the [maintenance of peace] charter, to the point of waging war against their own people," he pointed out.

The structure of the 15-member Council is facing criticism for the overriding influence of its five permanent members, whose national interests regularly block necessary action during humanitarian crises, most recently in Syria, where a five-year-old civil war has killed more than 260,000 people.

Many analysts have described the privileges held by the permanent members -- Britain, China, France, Russia and the US -- as anachronistic and unrepresentative of the current cultural and geopolitical realities of the world.

TRTWorld, AA