PARIS - French President Francois Hollande denounced on Wednesday "systematic obstruction" by Russia at the UN Security Council after the failure of a resolution calling for a seven-day ceasefire in the Syrian city of Aleppo.
Russia vetoed the French-backed measure on Tuesday in New York, the sixth time it has blocked a council resolution on Syria since the conflict began in March 2011. China also vetoed it.
"Russia's systematic obstruction bolsters the regime of Bashar al-Assad in its destructive drive which is harming the defenceless civilian population," a statement from Hollande's office said.
Syria's army took control of all of Aleppo's Old City Wednesday as rebels retreated in the face of an offensive that has seen troops capture three-quarters of opposition territory in the battered city.
French ambassador to the UN Francois Delattre accused Russia on Tuesday of having "decided to take Aleppo regardless of the human cost." The draft text, backed by France, the United States and Britain, demanded that "all parties to the Syrian conflict shall cease... any and all attacks in the city of Aleppo." It also called for the sides to "allow urgent humanitarian needs to be addressed," meaning permitting emergency services to enter and assist tens of thousands of residents in the besieged areas.
The discussions in the Security Council set the stage for a week of international discussions on the Syria conflict.
Western and Middle East powers that back the moderate Syrian opposition are set to meet in Paris on Saturday, while US and Russian officials are set to meet in Geneva on Tuesday.