Syria: War crimes are being committed in Aleppo
Syria – Remarks to the press by Mr François Delattre, Permanent Representative of France to the United Nations - 25 September 2016
France, together with the US and the UK, called for this emergency meeting of the Security Council because we are simply horrified by what we are watching in Aleppo.
Aleppo is to Syria what Sarajevo was to Bosnia, or what Guernica was to the Spanish war. This city epitomizes the Syrian tragedy more than any other. Aleppo, this symbolic city that dates back several millennia, this world heritage site, this crossroads where so many civilizations colluded and converged, is now experiencing a medieval type of siege. What a symbol, and frankly, what a shame!
Today, the Syrian regime and its allies are sending a message loud and clear to the world. They are determined to besiege, starve, and bomb Aleppo until they reach their military goal: eradicating the opposition. That is what this siege is all about. It is clear that the various negotiations were nothing else in the minds of the regime in Damascus than a smokescreen, yes a smokescreen to pursue their goal and to get Aleppo in the horrific conditions that we all see.
Now, we cannot turn a blind eye to this. If we are serious with ourselves, if we are serious with the values we hold dear, if we are serious in the way we see the Security Council in today’s world, we cannot turn a blind eye. Besides the human tragedy, what is at stake here is simply the future of Syria, and the credibility of the United Nations and the Security Council in particular.
That’s why France is calling for the immediate implementation of the US/Russia agreement, starting in Aleppo: Aleppo first in terms of both the cessation of hostilities and the humanitarian access.
This truce must be accompanied by a monitoring mechanism, making it possible to verify, to check, and if possible, to rebuild trust. As you know, French Foreign Affairs Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault has made some very concrete proposals during the ISSG meeting, to have a true, credible, tangible oversight mechanism.
In order for all of this to work, it is absolutely needed to keep the Syrian regime planes on the ground. Otherwise, this truce will never be implemented.
That’s the spirit with which France, with a sense of gravitas that we all feel deeply, is coming to this Security Council meeting that we have asked.
Question : War crimes ?
Yes, we believe war crimes are being committed in Aleppo, especially, as the Secretary-General said, with the use of incendiary weapons and advanced munitions in populated areas. These are constitutive of war crimes. They must not be unpunished. Impunity is simply not an option in Syria.