Day 1,162: Russia smiles, vetoes investigation into Syrian war crimes


The United Nations Security Council meeting room in the UN headquarters in New York City.



Today is Day 1,162 of the Syria conflict.

Earlier today, Russia and China vetoed a UN Security Council move to refer Syria to the International Criminal Court over war crimes allegations. Russia promised it would block this resolution, and it delivered. You wouldn't want Russia to break its promise, would you? (Russian Ambassador Vitaly Churkin reportedly even walked into the meeting grinning, saying "I'm going to be boringly predictable.")

This is the fourth time Russia has used its veto to block action against the Syrian government — a close ally — and Churkin previously called the vote a "publicity stunt." Below, a photo of Churkin executing a bro-shake with Syrian ambassador to the UN Bashar al-Ja'afari in July 2012.

(Don Emmert/AFP/Getty Images)

Last month, the UN human rights chief told the Security Council that the Syrian government's human rights violations "far outweigh" those of the rebel groups. Bashar al-Ja'fari responded by calling the allegation "lunatic." If you're the sort of person who likes to see for yourself, for one visual representation of government-versus-rebel atrocities — though this doesn't cover war crimes more broadly — take a look at Physicians for Human Rights' map of attacks on medical workers, which this blog covered last week. As you will see, the ratio of blue (government attacks) to yellow (opposition attacks) is pretty big.

In other news, it's taking more and more creativity to keep readers interested in the Syria conflict. Helpfully, writer Neil Gaimon, best known for his graphic novels, visited a refugee camp in Jordan recently, and The Guardian published his piece on the experience yesterday afternoon. Today, The Guardian profiled journalist Mitch Swenson's attempt at a new way of presenting the Syria story: through an online game called 1,000 Days of Syria.

He settled upon the idea of an online game. Swenson describes 1,000 Days of Syria, which is freely available to play on the internet, as “part electric literature; part newscast; and part choose-your-own-adventure.” You follow one of three narratives, that of a foreign photojournalist, a mother of two living in Daraa or a rebel youth living in Aleppo.

The story is delivered in disparate chunks and, at the end of each excerpt, you make choices about what to do next: will you attempt to flee the country or stay put? How will you try to pass the time when you’re imprisoned in a dimly lit cell? Each character has three possible endings and, at times, their stories intersect.

Finally, Syrian government forces may be close to cutting off yet another rebel supply route, this one to the rebel-held sections of Aleppo: Earlier today, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported that government troops had entered Aleppo's central prison, which has been under siege for about a year, and, as the BBC points out, lies close to a supply route for rebel fighters elsewhere in the city. Head over to the BBC for a helpful map of rebel-held and government-held sections of Aleppo.

The conflict continues.