The EU has urged Russia to halt its military intervention in Syria, warning that it risks prolonging the four-and-a-half-year conflict and undermining a political process to end it.
EU foreign ministers meeting in Luxembourg on Monday said the Russian attacks were of “deep concern and must cease immediately.”
For the first time, ministers also called for the protection of civilians to be an international priority. Bashar al-Assad bore the greatest responsibility for the 250,000 dead, they said, linking “the systematic targeting of civilians by the regime” to “mass displacements and recruitment to the flourishing of terrorist groups in Syria”.
EU diplomats have admitted privately that the Russian intervention has in effect frozen efforts by the UN envoy to Syria, Staffan de Mistura, as well as complicating plans to create a “contact group” of key states to find a way out of the impasse.
Nato’s secretary general, Jens Stoltenberg, said: “Russia should play a constructive role in the fight against [Isis]. To support the Assad regime is not constructive. This is only prolonging the war in Syria.”
The European Council underlined the urgency for the moderate Syrian opposition and associated armed groups to unite in order to present a political alternative to the Syrian people.
The EU statement stresses it will sustain its support to the moderate opposition, including the Syrian National Coalition, and recalls that it is a vital element in fighting extremism and has a key role to play in the political transition.
President Khoja said that the Russian invasion of Syria will destabilize the region and threatens its security, adding that the Russians are not killing Syrian civilians but also the plan of the UN envoy Staffan de Mestura and all chances of reaching a political solution.
Khoja stressed the difficulty of reaching a political settlement in light of the continued Russian and Iranian-Syrian invasion of Syria. (Source: Syrian Coalition)