France calls for transition to be implemented in Syria
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./.