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Official speeches and statements - December 7, 2016

Published on December 7, 2016

1. Syria - Situation in Aleppo - Statement by the heads of state and government of France, Germany, Canada, the United States, Italy and the United Kingdom (Paris - December 7, 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.

2. Syria - United Nations - Statement by M. Jean-Marc Ayrault, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Development (Paris - December 5, 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, December 10.

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