Will the UN send observers to Syria?

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By Catherine Hardy  with Reuters
Will the UN send observers to Syria?

The UN Security Council is to vote on whether to send observers to Aleppo.

A resolution that would allow UN officials to monitor evacuations from the besieged parts of the Syrian city is being considered by a meeting in New York on Sunday.

What is the resolution aimed at?

The French-drafted resolution is aimed at ensuring that UN officials can monitor evacuations from the besieged parts of the Syrian city.

The protection of those who remain will also be ensured.

The text was circulated among diplomats and the press on Friday.

What the draft text says

The draft text also “emphasises that the evacuations of civilians must be voluntary and to final destinations of their choice, and protection must be provided to all civilians who choose or who have been forced to be evacuated and those who opt to remain in their homes.”

It asks the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to “redeploy the United Nations humanitarian staff already on the ground to carry out adequate, neutral monitorinng, direct observation and to report on evacuations from besieged parts of Aleppo and protection of civilians inside Aleppo.”

The draft resolution also:

  • asks Ban to deploy further staff if needed.
  • “demands that all parties provide the monitors with safe, immediate and unimpeded access”.
  • “demands that all parties allow complete, immediate, unconditional, safe and unhindered access for the United Nations and its implementing partners” through the most direct route through Syria.
  • asks the UN secretary general to report back to the council on implementation of the resolution within five days of adoption.

How will Russia vote?

It is not clear.

Before the draft was circulated to the council on Friday, the Russian UN ambassador Vitaly Churkin said: “If it is a sensible initiative and we see it on paper, why not entertain this initiative?”

Russia is an ally of Damascus that has provided military backing to the Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s troops.

It has vetoed six Security Council resolutions on Syria since the conflict started in 2011.

China has joined Moscow in vetoing five.

Why is there a delay in the evacuation of Aleppo?

A plan for the evacuation of rebel-held areas of eastern Aleppo ground collapsed on Friday.

Pro-government forces were demanding that people also be moved out of two Shi’ite villages besieged by insurgents.

Many residents remain trapped in the east of the city in freezing temperatures.

A crackdown by Assad on pro-democracy protesters in 2011 led to civil war.

Half of Syria’s 22 million inhabitants have been uprooted.

It is estimated more than 400,000 have been