President of the Syrian Coalition Abdurrahman Mustafa met with the French president envoy to Syria François Sénémaud and discussed with him the violent bombing campaign being launched by the Assad regime and Russian air forces against civilians in Idlib. Both sides also discussed the latest political developments, most importantly the resumption of the UN-led Geneva talks.
Mustafa stressed that Russia is bombing civilians, hospitals and service centers while ignoring the areas under the control of ISIS and the Al-Qaeda. He stressed that the Assad regime and Russia has been pursuing this strategy from the outset with the aim of strengthening terrorism and crushing the Syrian revolution.
“There is no other Idlib for Syrian civilians to move to," Mustafa said, pointing out that previous military operations launched by the Assad regime and Russia have forcibly displaced millions of civilians from Aleppo, eastern Ghouta, Darayya, Homs, Qalmoun and Dara’a under the pretext of fighting terrorist groups. “The Russians are now seeking to use the same pretext, but Idlib is different from other regions as it is home to more than three million people.”
“We have been the number one victims of terror, which should not be used as pretext for killing civilians and changing the demographic landscape in Syria,” Mustafa said. He expressed hope that France would take adequate measures to protect civilians in Idlib and prevent any military operation against civilians in the province.
"We look at the threats being issued by the Assad regime, Russia and Iran with all seriousness. The anger still exists. Bombings are ongoing, which will cause unprecedented catastrophe if this continues."
With regards to the political process and negotiations, Mustafa pointed out that this process should be comprehensive and not limited to the constitutional process. “Moscow is following this line with the aim of rehabilitating the Assad regime and preventing a complete political transition in Syria in line with the Geneva Communique of 2012 and UN Security Council Resolution 2254.”
“We are still committed to a political solution that is based on the Geneva Communique of 2012 and UN Security Council Resolution 2254. However, the Assad regime is still pursuing a bloody military solution with Russian and Iranian support with the aim of retaking control on the entire Syrian territory," Mustafa added.
"We believe that there will be no solution without a UN-sponsored political agreement. The return of refugees should be an integral part of the political solution.”
Moreover, Mustafa pointed out the Assad regime still refuses to release detainees, citing reports of new arrests of civilians by the Assad regime. He noted that the Assad regime has recently begun issuing “death lists” containing the names of thousands of detainees who died under torture in its prisons.
For his part, Sénémaud said that France does not see in Syria conditions for the creation of a safe, neutral environment. He reiterated his country's position not to contribute to reconstruction efforts or the return of refugees unless there is real progress in the political process. He pointed out that France has already informed the Russians and the European Union of this position. (Source: Syrian Coalition’s Media Department)
The Assad regime and Russian air forces have further intensified the bombing campaign in Idlib and Hama provinces, killing more than 30 people, including women and children. A number of towns and villages were declared disaster areas as a result of the widespread destruction.
Local activists said that the bombings hit new areas on Sunday, targeting mainly vital civilian centers. The airstrikes knocked out Al-Lataminah Hospital and Nabd Al-Hayat Hospital in the town of Haas as well as caused damage to the civil defense center in the town of Khan Sheikhoun.
Local councils in northern rural Hama and the town of Habeet in rural Idlib declared their areas ‘disaster areas’ as a result of the extensive destruction of infrastructure and residential buildings.
The Syrian Coalition said that the Russian occupation forces were keenly seeking to repeat the scenario of aggression on Syrian towns and villages with the aim of destroying them as well as killing and displacing their people. It said that Russia believes that the scenario that took place in eastern Ghouta and Dara’a province can be repeated in and around Idlib by exploiting the silence of the international community.
In a press release issued on Sunday, the Coalition accused Russia, Iran and the Assad regime “of planning and implementing a new series of war crimes and crimes against humanity with the aim of displacing more Syrians and completing the project of demographic change in Syria without provoking any response by the international community and international legitimacy.”
The Coalition reminded all parties of the international community of their responsibilities towards the protection of civilians in Syria and the cessation of war crimes taking place in the country.
“We renew our calls on the UN Security Council to take immediate action to foil these plans before it is too late. It is imperative that the Council urgently adopt a resolution condemning the crimes of Russia, Iran and the Assad regime; ensure they stop immediately; and enforce UN resolutions on Syria, most importantly UN Security Council resolution 2254.”
The Coalition stressed the right of the Free Syrian Army and all the Syrian people to defend themselves by all legitimate means as it called for providing them with all necessary support to confront this aggression. (Source: Syrian Coalition’s Media Department)