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UN Security Council to Vote on Aleppo Cease-fire Plan


Nisrin Malaji returns to her looted home in the Hanano district of eastern Aleppo, Syria, Dec. 4, 2016.
Nisrin Malaji returns to her looted home in the Hanano district of eastern Aleppo, Syria, Dec. 4, 2016.

The United Nations Security Council is due to vote Monday on a resolution calling for a seven-day cease-fire in the northern Syrian city of Aleppo and unimpeded access for the delivery of humanitarian aid.

Aleppo was Syria's largest city before a civil war broke out nearly six years ago, and is currently the site of a Russia-backed offensive by the Syrian military aimed at retaking control from rebel fighters who hold territory in eastern neighborhoods.

The resolution drafted by Egypt, Spain and New Zealand says the council would consider seven-day extensions to the halt in fighting. The text bans attacks "with any weapons," including airstrikes and mortars that have been used to devastate large areas in both rebel-held and government-controlled parts of Aleppo.

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Like previous cease-fire agreements in Syria, this one would not apply to attacks against militant groups such as Islamic State. The prior halts in fighting have had some success in getting badly needed aid to civilians, but there has been little impact in stemming the larger war that has killed more than 400,000 people.

The new resolution also demands the implementation of a political process outlined in a December 2015 resolution. That process featured a new constitution and new elections for Syria, but did not determine what role President Bashar al-Assad would play.

The number of Syrian refugees registered with the United Nations has increased by nearly 500,000 since then, while attempts by the U.N. envoy for Syria, Staffan de Mistura, to get the warring sides to discuss the transition plans during indirect peace talks yielded little progress.

Russia opposes demands for Assad to step aside, and like the United States, has veto power in Security Council votes.

During a news conference Monday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov described the resolution as a "provocative step." He also said U.S. and Russian officials will hold talks Tuesday or Wednesday on a plan for a withdrawal of rebels from eastern parts of Aleppo.

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