US urges Russia to push Syrian regime on Homs aid
UNITED NATIONS (AP) — The U.S. ambassador to United Nations called on Russia to use its influence with the Syrian regime to help get humanitarian aid to the besieged city of Homs.
Samantha Power, in a speech during international Holocaust commemoration day, said that just as Russian soldiers liberated Auschwitz in 1945, “the world again needs Russia to use its influence, this time to ensure that food reaches the desperate and starving people imprisoned in besieged Homs, Yarmouk, the Damascus suburbs and elsewhere.”
“The horrors of the Holocaust have no parallel but the world continues to confront crimes that shock the conscience,” Power said during an event where film director Steven Spielberg gave a keynote address and a survivor of the Nazi genocide also spoke. “In October, the Security Council spoke with a united voice about the need for action to address the humanitarian devastation in Syria. There are people who are imprisoned in their own neighborhoods. They are literally being starved and bombed to death. They need food desperately and yet food cannot reach them because the regime won’t allow it.”
Russia’s Mission to the U.N. criticized Power for bringing the Holocaust into the Syria issue.
“We regard such analogies as entirely inappropriate,” said Alexey Zaytsev, the press-attaché at the mission, in an email to The Associated Press.
Such sharp exchanges have been typical of Security Council powers when it comes to Syria’s civil war. Russia and China back President Bashar Assad and have blocked Western efforts to push through Security Council action that would pressure his government to end the violence.
During talks in Geneva, the Syrian regime and opposition reached a tentative agreement about the evacuation of women and children trapped in Homs before aid convoys go in. But no progress had been made on the ground by Monday night.
The U.N. envoy, Lakhdar Brahimi, cited security problems for part of the delay. Syria’s opposition accused the regime of blocking a convoy of 12 trucks trying to get into Homs. Homs Governor Talai Barrazi said the only obstacle facing the flow of food into rebel held areas are “some cases of snipers fire by terrorist groups.”
Britain’s ambassador to the U.N., Mark Lyall Grant, told reporters that the Geneva talks present “an opportunity for the Syrian regime to show its willingness to humanitarian access” into Homs and other areas. He did not discount the possibility of U.N. Security Council action if the Syrian regime does not do so, although unity on the issue seems elusive.