Countries condemn Syrian regime’s actions in Aleppo

Statement by the heads of state and government of France, Germany, Canada, the United States, Italy and the United Kingdom regarding the situation in Aleppo¹

Paris, 7 December 2016

A humanitarian disaster is taking place before our very eyes. Some 200,000 civilians, including many children, in eastern Aleppo are cut off from food and medicine supplies. Aleppo is being subjected to daily bombings and artillery attacks by the Syrian regime, supported by Russia and Iran. Hospitals and schools have not been spared. Rather, they appear to be the targets of attack in an attempt to wear people down. The images of dying children are heartbreaking.

We condemn the actions of the Syrian regime and its foreign backers, especially Russia, for their obstruction of humanitarian aid, and strongly condemn the Syrian regime’s attacks that have devastated civilians and medical facilities and use of barrel bombs and chemical weapons.

The urgent need now is for an immediate ceasefire to allow the United Nations to get humanitarian assistance to people in eastern Aleppo and to provide humanitarian relief to those who have fled eastern Aleppo. The opposition have agreed the UN’s four-point plan for Aleppo. The regime needs to agree the plan too. We call on the Syrian regime to do this urgently to alleviate the dire situation in Aleppo and call on Russia and Iran to use their influence to help make this happen.

We urge all parties in Syria to adhere to international humanitarian law, including the Geneva Conventions. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has spoken about war crimes being committed in Syria. There must not be impunity for those responsible. We call on the UN to investigate respective reports and gather evidence to hold the perpetrators of war crimes to account. We are ready to consider additional restrictive measures against individuals and entities that act for or on behalf of the Syrian regime.

At the same time, Russia is blocking the UN Security Council, which is therefore unable to do its work and put an end to the atrocities. The regime’s refusal to engage in a serious political process also highlights the unwillingness of both Russia and Iran to work for a political solution despite their assurances to the contrary. We support the efforts of UN Special Envoy de Mistura to resume the political process through negotiations. Only a political settlement can bring peace for people in Syria./.

¹ Source of English text: UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

Syria – United Nations – Statement by M. Jean-Marc Ayrault, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Development

Paris, 5 December 2016

The UN Security Council failed to adopt a draft resolution aimed at establishing a ceasefire and restoring immediate and unrestricted access to humanitarian assistance due to a new veto by Russia.

In the face of an exceptionally serious humanitarian situation in Syria, marked by the tragic situation in Aleppo, France supported this text without any hesitation.

I deplore the fact that, as a result of Russian obstruction, the UN Security Council is still not able to assume its responsibilities to the civilian populations in Syria who are facing the destructive madness of Bashar al-Assad’s regime, as well as the terrorist groups, starting with Daesh [so-called ISIL].

France has believed since the start of the Syria crisis that the only way to put Syria back on the path towards peace and stability is through a political solution. By contrast, military escalation results in deadlock which only serves to exacerbate the suffering of the people and fuel terrorism.

There is a pressing need to establish the conditions for the resumption of negotiations on a political transition.

As I have already indicated on several occasions, France will not give up. It remains fully committed, together with its partners, to stopping the suffering in Aleppo. It is with this in mind that I will host a ministerial meeting of the like-minded countries in Paris on Saturday 10 December./.

Syria – Situation in Aleppo – Statement by M. Jean-Marc Ayrault, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Development

Paris, 29 November 2016

Given the humanitarian disaster in Aleppo, Jean-Marc Ayrault, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Development, is asking the United Nations Security Council to meet immediately to examine the situation in that martyred city and ways to come to the aid of its people.

More than ever, there is an urgent need to implement a cessation of hostilities and enable unfettered access to humanitarian aid.

Jean-Marc Ayrault will have a meeting at the Quai d’Orsay tomorrow with the President of Aleppo’s local council, Brita Hagi Hasan./.

Syria – Russia/fight against terrorism – Reply by M. Jean-Marc Ayrault, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Development, to a written question in the Senate

Paris, 24 November 2016

President Putin presented the operation launched by Russia on 30 September 2015, at the request of Bashar al-Assad’s regime, as the founding act of an international coalition to combat terrorism. France’s position is steadfast: the terrorist groups must be fought in Syria and the whole international community must pursue that goal. As such, France is acting resolutely alongside its coalition partners to combat Daesh [so-called ISIL] in Syria. But that doesn’t mean the battle against terrorism has to be waged at the cost of innocent civilian lives, in violation of international humanitarian law.

Since Russia began its intervention, and despite the agreements concluded with Washington on 22 February and 9 September 2016 aimed at imposing a cessation of hostilities in Syria, which silenced weapons for only a few weeks, the majority of Russia’s strikes have in fact been carried out in support of the Syrian armed forces, against moderate opposition groups, in Aleppo Province and the Homs, Hama and Idlib regions in particular, but also in areas of Damascus held by the insurgents. At the same time, Russia has carried out only sporadic strikes specifically aimed at Daesh and al-Qaeda.

After the United States broke off its bilateral cooperation with Russia on Syria, because of too-flagrant violations of the very terms of the agreement Moscow signed on 3 October, the regime and Russia’s bombing of areas controlled by the opposition in east Aleppo has only got heavier. Much worse than indiscriminate bombing, Damascus and Moscow’s strategy is to target civilian and medical infrastructures essential to the survival of the people in east Aleppo. This spiral of violence serves merely to fuel radicalization and foment terrorism.

To put an end to the suffering of the Syrian people, France presented a draft humanitarian resolution to the United Nations Security Council, with Spain, on 8 October. Russia immediately vetoed this appeal for calm and for collective responsibility. France would like Russia to stop its bombing of areas under the moderate opposition’s control, end all its attacks on civilians and ensure that the people in need have immediate, complete and unfettered access to humanitarian aid.

France demands that those responsible for war crimes, particularly those responsible for the chemical weapons attacks, be brought to justice. Finally, at political level, France calls for a transition to be implemented in accordance with the terms of United Nations Security Council Resolution 2254 and the Geneva Communiqué. This transition is essential for ensuring lasting peace in Syria and putting an end to regional instability and the development of the terrorist groups which Russia maintains it is fighting by bombing civilians./.

Published on 12/12/2016

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