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Syria (Q&A - Excerpt from the daily press briefing - July 27, 2012)

Q : We intervened in Libya to keep the Libyan Air Force from being used against civilians. We went to the Security Council and we managed to obtain two resolutions providing for a no-fly zone. As we look at what’s happening in Syria, aren’t there very clear justifications for applying the same reasoning as in Libya? We’re seeing MIG-23s bombing cities where there are obviously civilians.

A : We have spared no diplomatic effort and we will continue to spare no diplomatic effort to bring an end to the violence in Syria and begin a political transition process. Our message today is that Bashar al-Assad must go. He is being judged by his people, by the international community, and he will be judged by history, and the sooner the better.

We are receiving troubling information on what is going on and could go on in the coming hours in Aleppo. That’s why Bashar al-Assad’s regime must not only end the violence and stop killing its own people. It’s an additional reason for demanding the departure of Bashar al-Assad, who is preparing another massacre in Aleppo.

On the subject of Aleppo, I want to say that given the situation and given the risks, we are strongly advising journalists not to travel in the region. The situation is dangerous and that’s why we are so worried about correspondents who may be on the ground or who may be tempted to go there. Let me repeat: it is very dangerous, and we are formally advising against any travel to Syria in general, of course, as has been the case for a long time now, but especially right now and in that region.

Q : Are there any French journalists on the ground?

A : We are aware of a few journalists on the ground, and given the extremely dangerous circumstances, I believe we must reiterate our call for the utmost caution.

Yesterday the foreign minister urged Russia and China to make sure there were no massacres in Aleppo. Have you had any assurances, any guarantees? Have you had any direct contact with Chinese or Russian representatives, and how did they respond?

We are and will continue to be in contact with the Russians in particular to discuss the gravity of the situation in Syria and how to end what’s going on in Syria and begin a political transition, which is absolutely essential […] for the reasons I just mentioned. […]

Q : What is the status of Saudi Arabia’s draft resolution in the General Assembly?

[…] We are making every effort to get the international community to unite and mobilize its efforts with respect to the Syrian tragedy, in order to exert growing pressure on the Syrian authorities and make them agree to begin a political transition in Syria. It is the only credible response to the aspirations of the Syrian people and to the tragic situation we are seeing in Syria today.

It is also the objective we have been pursuing in Security Council negotiations, which have run up against a number of successive vetoes, at various times. This past Sunday in Doha, the Arab states spoke out even more strongly with respect to the Syrian crisis. They had mobilized last February, when they proposed a resolution to the UN General Assembly. We stand shoulder-to-shoulder with them in their effort in New York to mobilize and step up pressure on the Syrian regime.

No matter what some might think, the international community is largely mobilized against the criminal regime in Damascus.

Q : What does Paris think of General Tlass’s offer to unite the opposition, both inside and outside of the country?

[…] In recent days, we have seen a growing number of military defections, with generals in the lead, showing how much the Bashar al-Assad clan is in disarray. There have also been defections by diplomats, particularly ambassadors, and parliamentarians have taken flight as well.

All things considered—and I don’t imagine we know everything—this indicates an erosion of support among those affiliated with the Assad clan, and how much they are realizing that its efforts to cling to power are in vain.

[…] General Tlass is one of those people.

I won’t comment on his statements, but what we are telling the Syrian opposition is that it must continue and intensify its efforts to unite, in line with what was agreed at the Cairo meeting. That event was very important because it brought together many different segments of the Syrian opposition. Regardless of their opinions, their political leanings or their personal history, it is important for them to step up this dynamic of unification. Beyond differences or disputes, there must be a political platform designed to turn responsibility for the democratic transition over to the opposition. Of course, we are continuing to maintain our contact with dissidents and the Syrian opposition.


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