Russia will continue its operations in eastern Aleppo and will rescue the Syrian city from terrorists, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Thursday during a visit to Turkey.
Speaking at a joint press conference after a meeting with his Turkish counterpart Mevlut Cavusoglu in the Mediterranean town of Alanya, Lavrov said Russia would continue efforts to allow humanitarian aid into Aleppo, according to a Turkish translation of his comments.
Cavusoglu said he and Lavrov had agreed on the need for a ceasefire in Aleppo and the rest of Syria, although he said Turkey's stance on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad was clear.
Russia is a main backer of Assad, while Turkey supports the rebels fighting to oust him. The rebels have come under siege in eastern Aleppo after rapid advances by Syrian government forces, bringing them to the brink of a major defeat.
Russia will continue its operations despite criticism over its involvement in the Syrian conflict.
On Wednesday, US and Russia ambassadors to the UN exchanged barbs during an emergency session at the Security Council in New York on the worsening situation in Aleppo.
US Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power has repeatedly denounced Russia for telling “outright lies” on Russian bombing of Aleppo.
Russia - a key and strong ally to Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad’s regime – has boosted Damascus’s powers against rebels with its aerial bombardments.
Russia’s UN envoy Vitaly Churkin, meanwhile, accused the United States and other Western powers of engaging in “cynical sanctimony.”
Churkin rejected criticism against Russia especially after Britain’s ambassador, Matthew Rycroft, accused Moscow of supporting “a deliberate act of starvation and a deliberate withholding of medical care” in Aleppo.
In October, Russia vetoed a resolution to stop the bombing in Aleppo.
Churkin said Syria was targeting armed groups such as Jabhat Fateh al-Sham.
“We vehemently condemn any attempts to protect terrorists including any political action on a humanitarian pretext which, sadly alas, UN humanitarian works have been dragged into,” Churkin said.
Instead, he said that Russian soldiers have helped distribute food aid to displaced people who had fled eastern Aleppo to government areas, handing out packages stamped with the Russian flag and the slogan “Russia is with you” in Arabic.
Stephen O’Brien, the UN under-secretary-general for humanitarian affairs, on Wednesday pleaded with the Security Council to help break the siege of Aleppo, warning that residents of the Syrian city were at risk of extermination.
“For the sake of humanity we call on -- we plead -- with the parties and those with influence to do everything in their power to protect civilians and enable access to the besieged part of eastern Aleppo before it becomes one giant graveyard,” he said.