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Ban hits out at 'collective failure' on Syria

UNITED NATIONS: UN leader Ban Ki-moon said Wednesday the failure to halt atrocities in Syria has become a new stain on the reputation of the world body and the Security Council powers.

“Our collective failure to prevent atrocity crimes in Syria of the past two-and-a-half years will remain a heavy burden on the standing of the United Nations and its member states,” Ban told a UN meeting on preventing genocide.

Speaking ahead of a new bid by Russia and the United States to head off a possible military strike on Syria, Ban said the UN Security Council must play “an effective role in promoting an end to the Syrian tragedy.”

Ban said world leaders had vowed to act to prevent a repetition of the Rwanda genocide in 1994 and 1995 massacre in the Bosnian city of Srebrenica.

The Security Council was widely blamed for failing to act over the horrific events. And the 193-country UN General Assembly agreed the “responsibility to protect” doctrine in 2005, which has since been used to back UN military mandates for crises in Libya and Ivory Coast.

“As we see around us, however, atrocities continue to be committed,” Ban said highlighting the Syria case. “Many observers regard the international community's divisions and immobility as a failure of the responsibility to protect,” he added, while insisting that the doctrine remains an important weapon.

Russian Plan

Russian officials have given the US a plan to put Syria's chemical weapons arsenal under international control as diplomats from Moscow and Washington prepare for a key meeting in Geneva, a Russian source said on Wednesday.

“We handed over to Americans a plan to place chemical weapons in Syria under international control, we expect to discuss it in Geneva,” state news agency ITAR-Tass quoted a source in the Russian delegation as saying.

US Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov are to meet in Geneva Thursday in a bid to agree Security Council measures against the use of chemical weapons in Syria.

US leader Barack Obama has threatened a military strike against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's forces, accusing them of staging an August 21 attack with sarin gas that Washington claims killed 1,400 people.

Russia has defended Assad since demonstrations against him turned into a full scale civil war. Moscow, backed by China, has vetoed three UN Security Council resolutions proposed by Western nations that aimed to increase pressure on Assad.

Airstrike

Syrian activists say government warplanes have hit a field hospital near the northern city of Aleppo, killing 11 people.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says dozens more were wounded by the missiles that slammed into the facility in the town of al-Bab on Wednesday.

The group, which relies on reports from activists on the ground, said a Yemeni doctor was among those killed in the airstrike.

President Bashar Assad's regime has in the past year relied heavily on its air power to regain control of territory it lost to the opposition, pounding suspected rebel targets with war planes and helicopters, particularly in the north where the opposition controls large swathes of land and parts of Aleppo, Syria's largest city.

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