In light of new round of negotiations, Dr. Hijab questions the seriousness of the Assad regime and its alliesDate Posted: 03 March 2016
In light of Mr. Staffan de Mistura’s announcement to hold a new round of negotiations in Geneva on March 9th, Dr. Riad Hijab questioned the seriousness of the Assad regime and its allies towards working to create an atmosphere conducive of negotiations, and their willingness to engage in a political transition process.
Dr. Hijab cautioned against misleading claims that Russia, Iran, the regime and militias allied to them, have committed to the truce. He stressed that these are unsubstantiated claims, in fact the truce is on the verge of collapse and responsible international intervention is needed to reduce the violence which has not ceased from the outset of the truce.
"On the ground, in reality, there is no truce, we are witnessing a continuation of combat operations and war crimes committed by the regime and its allies to this day." Dr Hijab emphasised that the truce stipulated that all parties must abide by the cessation of hostilities and refrain from resorting to arms, including Russian and regime air strikes against opposition targets, or pursuing territory gains from other parties involved in the truce. In contrast, the regime and its allies are breaching the truce and are launching operations to gain new territory, and have effectively done so. Furthermore, they continue to target populated areas with aerial and artillery bombardment: explosive barrels, cluster bombs, Thermobaric weapons, heavy artillery and launching rocket strikes. This barbaric bombardment has resulted in the destruction of countless civilian targets in addition to a hospital and places of worship. There have been more than 100 incidents of breaches recorded in four days, 40 fatalities, and 92 wounded, including women and children.
Dr. Hijab noted that Russian fighter jets continue to target various areas in Syria, in full view of the truce monitoring committees, without any international condemnation for these violations. He added that along with Russian firepower, regime helicopters and Hezbollah terrorist militias continue their attacks on dozens of villages and towns in the provinces of: Damascus, Aleppo, Idlib, Hama, Latakia, Homs, Daraa and alQuneitra. In the past four days, thirteen opposition groups were attacked despite being participants in and abiding by the truce.
Dr. Hijab reiterated that the opposition’s main objective of this truce is to ensure that the humanitarian provisions of UNSCR 2254 are realised, and which stipulate allowing humanitarian organisations quick, secure and unhindered access to all areas under its control and to allow humanitarian relief to those in need. Dr. Hijab confirmed that the situation on the ground is contrary to this entirely: the aid reached limited areas, the regime and its allies continue their siege of more than a million and a half Syrians, using this blockade to starve and force innocent civilians into submission- which the UN considers as a war crime. Moreover, aid convoys await access for long periods at regime controlled barriers under the pretext of inspection as international community watches on. Syrians continue to die every day from hunger and lack of supplies, while tens of thousands are still detained in regime prisons- in clear violation of the truce and of international law. Clearly, many of this truce’s conditions continue to be ignored.
Dr. Hijab concluded that: "At a time when Mr. De Mistura prepares for a new round of negotiations which are to take place in six days, Russia, Iran and their affiliated militias prepare for a new round of violence... We are also observing regime allies mobilising more foreign troops, and we are monitoring a flow of heavy weapons, missiles and tanks to various fronts. We will also be publishing disturbing information of a significant enlistment of sectarian mercenaries from Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq and Lebanon preparing to launch large-scale offensives in the next few days."