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Russia vetoes U.N. demand for end to bombing of Syria's Aleppo

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It was the fifth time that Russian Federation used its veto to block United Nations action on the war in Syria.

The council is expected to vote on Saturday on a draft resolution that calls for an immediate truce throughout Syria and access for humanitarian aid.

Fastiqum and Nour el-Dine el-Zinki groups said the prisoners were fighters for the Iraqi Nujaba Shiite militia, which sent some 4,000 fighters recently to Syria to fight alongside government forces in Aleppo, a militia official told the AP earlier this week.

Ayrault said he plans to travel to NY ahead of a UN Security Council meeting Saturday, where the French are expected to put forward a resolution that will call for a ceasefire in Aleppo, including a halt to Syrian and Russian air attacks.

It was the fifth veto by Russian Federation of a Western-backed resolution aimed at ending the Syrian conflict.

Shortly after Russia's veto, the Security Council rejected a rival draft presented by Moscow that called for a ceasefire but did not mention a halt in air strikes.

The two powers support opposite sides in the war - Moscow has been a staunch Assad ally and the United States backs Syrian rebels trying to oust him.

In his statement, the Russian envoy to the UN, Vitaly Churkin, said that all of the members of the UNSC understood from the beginning that both draft resolutions would not go through.

The ceasefire deal brokered by Washington and Moscow in September was meant to pave the way for joint U.S.

As Kerry and Ayrault spoke at the State Department, Russia's lower house of parliament ratified a new treaty with Syria that would allow Russia's military to remain indefinitely in the Arab country.

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"[Such acts] beg for an appropriate investigation of war crimes", Kerry told reporters from the Associated Press in Washington.

German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier warned that the mounting tensions between Washington and Moscow over the Syrian conflict had created a situation "more dangerous" than the Cold War.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said that between 5,000 and 7,000 people from Russia and other ex-Soviet nations were fighting alongside the Islamic State group and other militants in Syria.

France's draft called for an end to all military flights over Aleppo and to air strikes on the rebel-held east that has 250,000 inhabitants.

"It is unprecedented for the members of the council to ask a permanent member of the security council to limit its own activities", he said.

"This is a cynical attempt to divert attention away from the need to stop the bombing of Aleppo", he said.

He said the French resolution's adoption would have been the first where the Security Council decided on a course of action for a permanent council member without prior agreement - meaning that Russian Federation would have been required to stop all flights and bombing of Aleppo.

On Friday, Russian lawmakers suggested Russia should demonstrate its military muscles to deter the U.S. Leonid Kalashnikov, a Communist lawmaker, said Russia must "seriously defend our interests in Syria". But France and its Western allies insist that the first step must be a bombing halt.

The U.N. estimates 275,000 people are trapped in a Russian-backed government siege of the city's rebel-held eastern districts, subjected to relentless bombardment. "The second biggest killer of innocent civilians in Syria is Russian Federation, and it's only the third biggest killer of innocent civilians in Syria that is al-Qaida, Al Nusra and all the other terrorists". The French draft expresses the council's intention to take "further measures" - United Nations code for sanctions - in the event that any party to the Syria conflict doesn't comply with its demands.

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