Q – The minister said yesterday that we can’t rule out the possibility of war crimes in Idlib. If that is the case, what does Paris plan to do about it? Has a UN initiative been planned?
A- France is concerned by the evolution of the situation in Idlib. We regret that the countries that had agreed to guarantee a de-escalation did not manage to reach a ceasefire agreement. A large-scale offensive in Idlib would have disastrous consequences. It would result in a major new humanitarian and migratory disaster as it could directly threaten the three million civilians in the area, as quantified by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.
We cannot rule out the risk of war crimes because the regime’s and Russia’s air strikes in recent days lead us to fear the worst for civilian populations.
We are particularly vigilant with respect to the prospect of the Syrian regime’s renewed use of chemical weapons. As the Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs has reiterated, France will continue to enforce its red lines with respect to the use of chemical weapons and will stand ready to act in the event of a verified, lethal use of these weapons, in close cooperation with its closest partners. In any case, France will continue to mobilize along with its partners to combat impunity for the use of chemical weapons, war crimes, and crimes against humanity committed in Syria.
We call on the guarantors to continue their discussions to preserve the ceasefire. In this regard, France supports the calls for dialogue by the UN secretary-general and his special envoy, Staffan de Mistura, as well as their demands to protect the civilian population.
As President Macron reiterated, the only credible, lasting solution to the Syrian conflict is an inclusive, negotiated political solution acceptable to all the parties, under the authority of the UN and consistent with Security Council Resolution 2254.