About Riad Hijab
Letters & Statements
H.E. Mr. Ban Ki-moon
No people have suffered the systematic persecution and killing that the Syrian people have been and continue to be subjected to by Syrian regime forces and its allies Russia, Iran and the transnational sectarian militias. In addition to ISIS operating inside Syria.
Today, it is with great pain and grief that I bring to your attention the unprecedented level of civilian killing in the city of Manbij in the countryside of Aleppo. Hundreds of civilians have been killed, mostly women and children. Furthermore, entire families have been buried under the rubble as a result of the International Coalition aircraft’s bombing of this area. The death toll is likely to increase, and this all adds to what is being done by the so-called Syrian Democratic Forces.
Your Excellency, we have stressed and once again reiterate our strong rejection of ISIS and its likes. Our position is firm on the need to fight terrorism in all its forms and manifestations, and we are determined to be at the forefront of the fight against this terrorism. However, the lives of Syrian civilians are lost by the hundreds and met with suspicious international silence, without a clear and practical strategy to eradicate this terrorism from its source – the Assad regime and its allies.
We invite you once again to use your capacity as Secretary-General of the United Nations to activate the principle of civilian protection. The Syrian people are in dire need of protection from the systematic genocide campaign against them.
With utmost regard,
Dr. Riad Hijab
General Coordinator of the High Negotiations Committee
of the Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces
28 February 2016
I regret to inform you that hostilities committed by Russian, Iranian, the Syrian regime, and foreign militias and mercenaries allied to them have continued against the Syrian people despite the truce taking effect on the 27th February 2016.
Right from the onset of the truce, a large number of violations have been committed by the regime and its allies in several parts of Syria. The regime has continued to target populated areas using helicopter raids to deploy explosive barrels, resulting in a large number of fatalities and causing significant injuries, most of whom are innocent women and children. There were seven recorded incidents of such breach. Furthermore, there have been twenty-four recorded breaches involving artillery shelling and five incidents recording offensive ground operations. Recorded breaches of the truce were registered in twenty-six different areas held by the moderate opposition.
Moreover, today, Sunday 28th February, Russian fighter jets launched twenty-six air strikes against territory held by opposition groups which have announced and entered into the truce. Disturbingly significant is the fact that cluster bombs as well as Thermobaric weapons were deployed, adding to the number of innocent civilian fatalities and horrifying injuries.
In light of repeated breaches by the regime and its allies since the commencement of the truce, the growing number of fatalities, which currently stands at twenty-nine documented deaths, in addition to the dozens who have been injured as indiscriminate targeting of populated areas continues, we wish to clarify the following:
- It is most unfortunate that the Russian Ministry of Defence presented an erroneous map riddled with false military information (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MaYydEjdSzs) and attributed this map to the United Nations for calculated political and military purposes, as purported areas of political influence and distribution of forces on Syrian territory. The sole purpose of that exercise was to exclude certain areas from the truce and to continue their systematic bombardment and forced displacement. Given the serious consequences of these violations on the Syrian people and on the unity and territorial integrity of Syria, we urge that you take the necessary measures to respond and counter false Russian allegations and put a stop to such practices.
- We call on the United Nations and the Friends of Syria Group to be mandated to specify the territory covered by the truce to prevent hostilities in the designated inclusion zones, such a task must be assumed by an impartial and transparent party. We also note that the absence of clear separation lines will result in the targeting of civilian populated areas by the regime and its allies, and henceforth constitute yet another flagrant violation of Security Council resolutions jeopardising the truce.
- Although the Syrian opposition groups have demonstrated maximum levels of self-restrain and have thus far continued to adhere to their obligations to the truce, it seems likely that the regime and its allies’ persistent crimes against the Syrian people will inevitably undermine international efforts for the continuation of the truce.
- We have agreed to the temporary truce as a response to sincere international efforts aiming to ease the suffering of the Syrian people and to assist in the implementation of the humanitarian provisions of UNSCR 2254, in particular: articles 12, 13 and 14. Failure to achieve any significant progress in this regard will leave us no option but to examine alternative measures to ensure the protection of the Syrian people and bring an end to the crimes committed against them. It is therefore of critical importance for the Security Council to stand firm and unwavering in its resolve.
- The persistent violations of the regime and the forces allied to it will undermine Security Council efforts for a political process, including the most recent, UNSCR 2268. It is abhorrent to pursue a political process through which the suffering of the Syrian people is used as a means to achieve political and military gains; under such circumstances, negotiations will be unfeasible.
The gravity of the situation, and the consequent clear and direct threat to peace and security at a regional and international level, require the United Nations to intervene immediately, to stop the crimes committed against the Syrian people and to preserve the unity and integrity of Syria.
Dr. Riad Hijab
The High Negotiations Committee