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Syria/Iraq

Published on December 8, 2014
Interview given by M. Laurent Fabius, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Development, to Europe 1 (excerpts)
Paris, December 5, 2014

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Q. – Syria and the United States dropped bombs three days apart, and Bashar al-Assad, in Régis Le Sommier’s interview, says “there’s no direct coordination”. Does this mean there’s indirect coordination between Syria and the United States today?

THE MINISTER – Let’s get back to the basic, brief facts. The absolute enemy is Daesh [ISIL], the cut-throats and terrorists of Daesh, be it in Iraq, Syria or elsewhere.

In Iraq, work is starting to be done, with the Iraqis’ support – the French President hosted a meeting with the Iraqi Prime Minister two days ago – and things are moving in the right direction.

In Syria, the situation is different because Mr Assad is still a dictator. So Daesh has to be fought and, at the same time, a political solution found between the moderate opposition on one side, and regime elements on the other.

Q. – That’s why you’ve focused so much attention on Aleppo.

THE MINISTER – Exactly.

Q. – The battle of Aleppo, in Syria, is getting under way or will do in January. Are you still in favour of delivering weapons and providing humanitarian assistance in what is the stronghold of the anti-Assad moderates?

THE MINISTER – Of course. The battle of Aleppo may be exceptionally serious. You’ve got to realize that if Assad, or Daesh, takes Aleppo, it means that hundreds of thousands of Syrians will be hunted down – in which case, where will they go? – or killed. We’ve got to manage – and this is Mr Mistura, the UN envoy’s plan – to freeze the situation around Aleppo and get a zone in the north where Syrians can live, I’d say, in peace.

Q. – But here, you’re championing this solution to save Aleppo, but you’re somewhat on your own, because the Americans are talking, with a single obsession, about destroying and eradicating Daesh, but they’re talking to Assad.

THE MINISTER – We’re talking to the Americans, we’re talking to the Turks, we’re talking to the coalition leaders; there are discussions with the Russians too, of course, but Aleppo must be saved.

And since you’ve put the question to me, I’ll take advantage of the fact to issue an appeal – which I did in the international press: if Aleppo is taken, it means hundreds of thousands of people will find themselves in appalling situations. There are already between eight and 10 million displaced people in Syria.

Q. – Saving Aleppo is a matter of urgency…

THE MINISTER – Absolute urgency. (…)./.

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