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Russia, Citing Talks, Opposes Measure To Bar Syrian Barrel Bombs

A Syrian woman and youths, one of them carrying a wounded baby, flee the site of a reported barrel-bomb attack by Syrian government forces in the northern city of Aleppo in June 2014.

Russia has said it opposes a draft United Nations Security Council resolution aimed at stopping barrel-bomb attacks in Syria, contending it could jeopardize international peace talks.

Britain, France, and Spain have drafted a measure condemning the use of barrel bombs and threatening sanctions against the Damascus regime, which is accused of dropping the crude explosives on civilian targets.

Human rights groups say barrel bombings by the regime are the No. 1 killer in a four-year war that has killed 250,000 people, claiming more civilian lives than Islamic State attacks.

Asked whether Russia backed Security Council action on barrel bombs, Russian Deputy Ambassador Petr Iliichev said on October 28, "No, especially at this very delicate moment we should not jeopardize the efforts that are being undertaken in Vienna."

Scheduled for October 29 and 30 in Vienna are the most serious negotiations to date to end the Syrian conflict, now in its fifth year and spawning a massive humanitarian crisis with half the country's 24 million citizens driven from their homes.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov is due to join his counterparts from the United States, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and -- for the first time -- Iran for the talks.

Egypt, Lebanon, and the European Union have also confirmed they will attend the talks on October 30, which come as Russia's air campaign in Syria enters its second month.

Britain's UN Ambassador Matthew Rycroft said the draft resolution on barrel bombs has been circulated to some members of the Security Council and will be circulated to all members in the coming days, despite Russia's opposition.

"I think it's important to ensure that indiscriminate bombing is stopped because it kills so many people, it terrorizes so many people, and it's one of the causes of the flood of refugees and migrants out of Syria," he said.

France's UN Ambassador Francois Delattre said last week that barrel bombs are not defensive weapons, "they are weapons of terror."

Under discussion for months, the draft text would demand that Syrian authorities immediately cease the use of barrel bombs and threatens further measures against those who violate the measure.

The resolution is being drafted under Chapter 7 of the UN Charter, which authorizes the use of military force or sanctions to enforce it.

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has denied using barrel bombs. But the West charges that the explosives are dropped from helicopters, and only the regime among the many combatants in Syria has helicopters.

With reporting by AFP and AP
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