Syria - Situation in Eastern Ghouta (15 December 2017)

France denounces the untenable situation of the Syrian population in Eastern Ghouta. Under siege by Bashar al-Assad’s army for several years, this is supposed be one of the de-escalation zones agreed on in Astana.

In violation of its commitments, the Syrian regime is nevertheless conducting an intense bombardment that has caused several hundred civilian casualties in recent weeks. It is blocking access to humanitarian aid for 400,000 residents of the region and refusing the emergency medical evacuation of nearly 500 civilians, including 137 children.

It is therefore urgent for Russia and Iran, guarantors of the Astana process and allies of the Damascus regime, to take measures to ensure that it ends the bombardment and that humanitarian aid reaches those who need it safely, completely, and without hindrance. France strongly reaffirms that access to conflict zones by medical and humanitarian personnel is imperative. By refusing such humanitarian access, the Damascus regime is responsible for mass crimes, especially through the use of a siege as a weapon of war. We express our particular concern for the children, whose malnutrition is adding to the suffering they have endured since the beginning of the conflict.

France will continue to work to ensure that humanitarian aid is accessible to all throughout Syria. It will work to renew Security Council resolution 2165 authorizing cross-border humanitarian aid.

Q - What is your assessment of the Geneva process to resolve the Syrian conflict following the acknowledgement by the special envoy that it has failed completely? Isn’t this proof that this process, the special envoy and the sponsors are ineffective?

A - France reaffirms that there is no alternative to a negotiated political solution agreed upon by both parties under UN auspices - the only framework agreed by the international community on the basis of the Geneva Communiqué and UNSCR 2254. In this respect, it reaffirms its support for the efforts of Special Envoy of the UN Secretary-General for Syria Staffan de Mistura.

We deplore the attitude of the Syrian regime, which has refused to engage in the discussions since November 28. This is an irresponsible strategy of obstruction given the scale of the challenges facing Syria with respect to re-establishing peace, allowing the return of refugees, and eradicating terrorism.

After nearly seven years of war, the toll exacted by the conflict continues to rise. The Syrian regime bears the responsibility for the lack of progress in the negotiations. Conversely, we note, as highlighted by the UN, the constructive attitude of the Syrian opposition, which presented a united front in Geneva.