Russian ambassador to the United Nations Vitaly Churkin vetoes a Security Council vote on a French-Spanish resolution on Syria at the UN headquarters, Saturday, in New York City. (Dominick Reuter/AFP/Getty Images)

Russia vetoed a United Nations Security Council resolution on Saturday aimed at stopping the bombing in Aleppo as France warned that the city would be remembered as a place where civilians were “abandoned” to death.

It was the fifth time Moscow has used its veto in as many years as a deadlocked Security Council tries to end a war that has claimed almost half a million Syrian lives. 

During that time, the warplanes of President Bashar al-
Assad have focused their might on the rebel-held suburbs of eastern Aleppo. More than 377 civilians have been killed there since the Sept. 19 breakdown of a truce brokered by the United States and Russia.

Barrel bombs, artillery attacks and cluster munitions have also targeted doctors and first responders pulling survivors from the rubble. 

“We all remember Guernica, Srebrenica and Grozny. What we are seeing in Aleppo is the horrendous repetition of those tragedies,” said French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault. “If the international community does not wake up, it will share responsibility.”

In one drone video, government-held west Aleppo appears verdant and bustling. Another shows rebel-held east Aleppo as a pock-marked wasteland. (Jason Aldag,Ishaan Tharoor/The Washington Post)

Security Council members arrived at Saturday’s session knowing that neither of the draft resolutions before them — one French, one Russian — would pass. 

The French text had been in circulation for a week as Ayrault tried to rally his counterparts to support the grounding of warplanes over Aleppo. But Russia had never agreed. Its military intervention in Syria turned the war in Assad’s favor, and Russian jets have been a key force in the bombardment of eastern Aleppo.

Shortly before raising his hand to veto, Moscow’s ambassador to the United Nations, Vitaly Churkin, called the French draft “hastily put together” and said its provisions were not clear. 

UNICEF's representative in Syria, Hanaa Singer, called Saturday for an end to the violence and warned of the humanitarian and psychological impact.

Insecurity also plagues the government-held west, as rebel forces launch regular rocket salvos into civilian areas. 

Speaking after a trip to the western districts, Singer said she had witnessed a “dire situation” in displacement shelters filled with thousands of families. “These are the horrors in western Aleppo,” Singer told the Associated Press. “God knows what is happening on the eastern side.”

On Saturday, civilians in the rebel-held districts had one word for it: catastrophe. “Without action, the United Nations has given a green light to destroy this city,” said Abo Mohammed, a doctor. “No one is safe here.”