Syria: the brutality has continued to worsen in Aleppo [fr]
Humanitarian situation in Syria - Statement by Mr François Delattre, Permanent Representative of France to the United Nations - Security Council - 26 July2016
Last February, the adoption of the cessation of hostilities agreement provided a spark of hope for a reduction in violence that would open the way to an emergence from the crisis and to the negotiation of a political transition in Syria. Two months later, at the end of April, the regime, supported by its allies, began its attack on Aleppo and extinguished that hope. At that time, France, together with the United Kingdom, took the initiative to bring the Security Council together on 4 May (see S/PV.7687) to denounce the tragic situation being faced by Aleppo and the hundreds of thousands of inhabitants who were still living there.
The regime, with the complicity of its allies, had just launched an offensive that sounded the death knell for a cessation of hostilities. The agreement on the cessation of hostilities, as we feared, was just a smoke screen to hide with the utmost cynicism an exclusively military strategy, which aimed, under the pretext of combating the Al-Nusra Front, to encircle all the areas held by the opposition. What the regime cannot control, it seeks to destroy. Hospitals were destroyed just yesterday in Aleppo, in total violation of international humanitarian law and resolution 2286 (2016), which we adopted by consensus a few weeks ago.
During this entire time, the regime has continued to violate Security Council resolutions, international humanitarian law and the most basic humanitarian principles. It has continued to attack civilian populations and non-terrorist armed groups. By observing and supporting the regime’s attitude, some members of the Security Council are jeopardizing their responsibility and their credibility.
The brutality has continued to worsen in Aleppo city and province. After experiencing indiscriminate attacks and daily barrel bomb attacks, the city of Aleppo is now being besieged. The Castello road, which was the last accessible route to provide it with water, provisions and medicines, has been cut off by the regime’s allied forces. In many respects Aleppo is for Syria what Sarajevo was for Bosnia. It is a crossroads city, a martyred city. The symbolic crossroads city of Aleppo, which is thousands of years old and is part of humankind’s heritage, is a place where many countries have clashed and intermingled, leaving profound and diverse imprints on the city — again, today is a martyred town. This symbol of civilization is now being subjected to a medieval type of siege. What a downfall and, frankly, what a disgrace that is.
There are still about 300,000 people living in besieged Aleppo, soon to be deprived of everything and at the mercy of the cruelty of the regime’s militia. Therefore, I ask: Can the Security Council, 20 years after the siege of Sarajevo, passively accept the reprise of a war crime of such barbarous tactics? Those responsible for those crimes must not go unpunished.
The calendar provided for by resolution 2254 (2015) sets 1 August as the deadline for establishing a transitional authority with full executive powers. For the Security Council, respecting that deadline is a test of the real will of the regime and its supporters to reach a political solution.
At our most recent consultations, Special Envoy De Mistura collectively informed us of the fact that, without any progress in the cessation of hostilities and the humanitarian situation, no credible resumption of the negotiations would be possible. As we now meet, this tragic scenario is indeed emerging. Aleppo has become Syria’s martyred city. If it is besieged enough, it could become the graveyard of the Vienna process, as there will be no lasting political solution or effective combating of terrorism, while Syrian civilians continue to be massacred.
As was stressed publicly by the French Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr. Jean-Marc Ayrault, France cannot close its eyes to the tragedy taking place in Aleppo. We cannot allow the Aleppo siege to continue without responding. Therefore, France has three demands.
First of all, we formally call upon the allies of the regime, the members of the Security Council and the International Syria Support Group (ISSG) to assume their responsibilities so that the Syrian regime and its allies immediately stop their attacks on Aleppo. The lives of dozens of thousands of people and the future of a negotiated political solution, as well as the shared fundamental values of the Organization, are at stake.
Secondly, to relieve the suffering of the population, we call upon for the immediate establishment of a humanitarian ceasefire in Aleppo and Ghouta.
Thirdly, we call for an immediate lifting of all the sieges and for rapid, safe and unhindered access to all people in Syria, pursuant to the obligations under resolutions 2139 (2015), 2185 (2014), 2254 (2015) and 2268 (2016). The Syrian authorities must respect their obligations under international humanitarian law, and they must also abide by Security Council resolutions.
The ISSG mechanism; the Geneva task force; the efforts of Mr. De Mistura, which we support; and the appeals for bringing together the opposition will all achieve nothing because of the Aleppo siege. Let us be clear: there will be no possible cooperation with those who are responsible for this crime while it is being committed and they bear a heavy responsibilty in the face of history.