During Briefing on Syria, Security Council Members Discuss Urgency of Weekly 48-hour Pause in Fighting to Reach Besieged Civilians with Humanitarian Aid

SC/12482
22 August 2016
7757th Meeting* (AM)

During Briefing on Syria, Security Council Members Discuss Urgency of Weekly 48-hour Pause in Fighting to Reach Besieged Civilians with Humanitarian Aid

The city of Aleppo risked a humanitarian catastrophe unparalleled in the more than five years of carnage seen during the Syrian conflict, the Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator told the Security Council today, stressing the need for a 48-hour pause in fighting by all sides in order for aid to reach millions of civilians in dire need.

“This is not a negotiating tactic,” said Stephen O’Brien, briefing the 15-member body.  It was what was needed to instil confidence in aid truck drivers journeying over shell-cratered roads wondering whether they would be hit by snipers.  Aleppo, bombed daily, had become the “apex of horror”, he said, with up to 275,000 people in the east almost entirely cut off from food, water, medicine and electricity for more than a month.  In the west, some 1.5 million people remained hard to reach.  Depending on military developments, either or both parts of the city could become besieged.

The United Nations had developed an emergency response plan and was standing by to send supply trucks across Aleppo if access and security were granted.  Welcoming the 18 August announcement by the Russian Federation supporting the call for a 48-hour ceasefire, he said anything shorter would not allow humanitarian workers to respond to the size of the need.  The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs was working with all sides to ensure that the announcement translated into a comprehensive pause.

To support western Aleppo, the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs had completed an assessment of an alternative truck route after the main route from the south had been closed, he said.  The new route had been cleared for movement and the Office was ready to move 50 aid trucks from western Aleppo into the east as soon as it received security assurances.  To support cross-border aid movement into eastern Aleppo, the plan relied on the same routes as those used prior to the 7 July closure of Castello Road.  The Office was preparing to send 20 trucks during the first pause, to be scaled up in the future.

More broadly, he said that, while 1.27 million people had been reached in besieged, hard-to-reach and priority locations in 2016, Syrian authorities had responded to the United Nations’ 24 requests to access 32 locations and some 991,050 people by denying access to more than 50 per cent of the requested beneficiaries, including in Darayya and Kafr Batna.

Further, he said, the Four Towns ceasefire agreement covering Zabadani, Madaya, Fu'ah and Kafraya and surrounding areas, approved under the August plan, had not received United Nations assistance since 30 April.  No inter-agency convoys had moved in August.  The September plan aimed at reaching 1.19 million across 34 besieged, hard-to-reach and priority areas and a response from Syrian authorities was expected around 30 August.

He urged all parties to heed the call for a cessation of violence and all Member States with influence over them to agree on security guarantees and operational modalities for such in Aleppo.  What was happening was an outrage against “every moral fibre in our being, as human beings” and a failure of politics, he said.

In the ensuing debate, delegates denounced attacks against schools, hospitals and other civilian infrastructure, especially against the backdrop of World Humanitarian Day, observed on 19 August.  Several decried the horrors facing civilian children, such as Omran Daqneesh, whose photo, taken while sitting bloodied and traumatized in an ambulance, had become an immediate global symbol of human suffering.  Most speakers supported the call for a 48-hour humanitarian pause in Aleppo, with the representative of Malaysia, Council President for August, stressing that the body’s continued silence on the matter contravened its call for a political solution.  An undivided endorsement would be a first step amid hope that parties could achieve such a truce, she said.

Similarly, New Zealand’s representative, noting that her country, Egypt and Spain were pen holders on the issue, pressed the Council to call on all relevant parties to improve the “horrific” situation.  There must be immediate unhindered humanitarian access to all areas, a lifting of all sieges and implementation of substantial pauses in fighting to permit humanitarian deliveries. 

The United States’ delegate said the regime of Bashar al-Assad had drawn on the Russian Federation’s assistance to continue the conflict, citing examples in Daraa Governorate, Idlib, Aleppo and Darayya.  It had used gruesome tactics, from “starve-and-surrender” efforts to the use of barrel bombs, and had failed to provide unfettered humanitarian access.  It was also responsible for 78 per cent of civilians living under siege.  The United Kingdom’s representative called on the Russian Federation to stop using incendiary munitions and rather, use its influence on the regime to end all attacks on civilians.

In that context, the representative of the Russian Federation asked if others had considered the consequences of invading Iraq or the spiral of violence in Syria resulting from the supply of weapons to one party.  Further, he said, a pause should not be used by fighters to regroup or to replenish their supplies.  While the number of Syrian towns that had joined the reconciliation process had grown to 444, the number of armed groups committed to a cessation of hostilities remained unchanged at 69.  Six corridors had been established for people to leave Aleppo, but they could not be used to supply weapons to extremists.  Western partners should consider what the people they were sponsoring in Syria were doing.  Maybe then would the situation change.

Venezuela’s representative pointed out that, since the start of 2016, humanitarian workers had reached 68 per cent of the besieged population in Syria, more than 400,000 people, while World Health Organization (WHO) vaccination campaigns had been carried out.  Aleppo had been besieged by armed groups that had links to Al-Qaida.  Syria was obliged to protect citizens, as it had been doing in areas under its control.

Rounding out the debate, Syria’s representative said his Government was not responsible for bombing the Aleppo neighbourhood that had been linked to the story of Omran Daqneesh.  Foremost responsibility rested with Governments that had opened doors for terrorists, smuggled weapons, established training centres, recruited children and financed a terrorist war against Syria.  They had also engaged in economic terrorism with unilateral coercive measures which had exacerbated suffering.

Also participating in the discussion were the representatives of France, Uruguay, Spain, Ukraine, Angola, Japan, Senegal and China.

The meeting began at 11:05 a.m. and ended at 1:25 p.m.

Briefing

STEPHEN O’BRIEN, Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, paid tribute to Khaled Omar Harrah, a member of the White Helmets who had been killed on 11 August by airstrikes, who had rescued a 10-day-old baby from a collapsed building in 2014.  Aleppo was being bombed daily, and air strikes in the east and rocket and mortar attacks in the west had destroyed civilian structure, forcing people to flee, he said.  The risk to humanitarian workers was immense amid reports of “double tap attacks”, in which a helicopter or jet bombed a building — waited for rescue and medical workers to arrive — and attacked again.  An estimated 130 White Helmet volunteers had lost their lives since 2013.

Indeed, he said, Aleppo had become the “apex of horror”, with up to 275,000 people in the city’s east almost entirely cut off from food, water, medicine and electricity for more than a month.  Access was also difficult to reach the estimated 1.5 million people in the western part of the city.  Depending on military developments, either or both parts of the city could become besieged.

He said the United Nations had developed an emergency response operational plan and was standing by to send supply trucks across Aleppo if access and security was granted.  He had repeatedly called for a 48-hour ceasefire or pause, echoed by Secretary-General, his Special Envoy and the head of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).  “This is not a negotiating tactic,” he said.  Rather, it was what was needed to instil confidence in aid truck drivers wondering whether snipers would target them or an improvised explosive device would catapult them into the air.

Welcoming the 18 August announcement by the Russian Federation supporting the call for a 48-hour ceasefire, he said anything shorter would not allow humanitarian workers to respond to the size of the need.  A pause would require security assurances from all parties.  The ceasefire must be United Nations-led and his office was working with all sides to ensure that the Russian Federation’s announcement would be translated into a comprehensive pause.

The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs continued to provide support into western Aleppo, he said, having completed an assessment over the weekend of an alternative truck route into Aleppo after the main route from the south had been closed.  The new route had been cleared for movement and through it, the Office had provided assistance through its regular programming.  It was ready to move 50 aid trucks from western Aleppo into the east as soon as it received security assurances.

His office was also preparing for the cross-border movement of assistance into eastern Aleppo, he said, noting that the plan was largely “business as usual” for such operations, using the same mechanisms currently in place and the same routes as those used prior to the 7 July closure of Castello Road.  It was preparing to send 20 trucks during the first pause, to be scaled up for future pauses.  Once cleared, trucks would travel across the border into Syria.  “We are ready,” he said, and with a green light, could start to move assistance within 48 to 72 hours.

More broadly, he cited reports of bombed hospitals, wrecked schools, power outages, water scarcity and movement restrictions, noting that in July alone, there had been 44 attacks on medical and health facilities throughout Syria.  Physicians for Human Rights had documented 373 attacks on 265 medical facilities since the adoption of resolution 2139 (2014):  336 by the Government of Syria and allied forces; 14 by non-State armed groups; 10 by Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL/Da’esh) and Al-Nusrah Front for the People of the Levant; 1 by coalition forces; and 12 by unknown forces.

Citing gains, he said 1.27 million people had been reached in besieged, hard-to-reach and priority locations in 2016.  Progress had been made on approvals by the Government for the July inter-agency convoy plan, with 34 of 35 locations approved, including all requested besieged areas.  Further, his office had deployed a number of inter-agency convoys to Hajeb, Banan, Talbisch, Ar-Rastan and al-Houla, reaching more than 270,000 in need.

However, he said, the United Nations had submitted 24 requests to 32 locations, aiming at reaching 991,050 people.  In its response — due on 28 July, but received on 3 August and amended twice thereafter — the Government of Syria had affirmed that the United Nations could deliver assistance to 505,750 people.  The United Nations had been denied access to more than 50 per cent of the requested beneficiaries, including in Darayya and Kafr Batna.

The Four Towns ceasefire agreement covering Zabadani, Madaya, Fu’ah and Kafraya and surrounding areas had been approved under the August plan, yet had not received United Nations assistance since 30 April due to tensions fuelled by the aerial bombardment in Idlib.  Moreover, no inter-agency convoys had moved in August.  The September plan aimed at reaching 1.19 million across 34 besieged, hard-to-reach and priority areas and a response from Syrian authorities was expected around 30 August.

“This is the greatest crisis of our time,” he said.  Aleppo risked a humanitarian catastrophe unparalleled in the more than five years of carnage during the Syrian conflict.  He could not stress enough the need for a 48-hour pause in fighting to be approved by all sides.  He urged all parties to heed the call for a cessation of violence and all Member States with influence over them to agree on the security guarantees and operational modalities for a ceasefire in Aleppo and elsewhere.

“I am angry, very angry,” he said.  The carnage that was taking place in Syria today had long moved from the cynical to the sinful.  What was happening was an outrage against “every moral fibre in our being, as human beings”, and a failure of politics.

Statements

CAROLYN SCHWALGER (New Zealand), noting that New Zealand, Egypt and Spain were the Council’s pen holders on the issue, said it was important for the body to call publicly on all relevant parties to improve the “horrific” situation.  There needed to be immediate unhindered humanitarian access to all areas and a lifting of all sieges and implementation of substantial pauses in fighting to permit humanitarian deliveries.  All initiatives must be taken in line with international humanitarian law and principles.  Acknowledging the Russian Federation’s support for humanitarian pauses, she said the international community must do all it could to prevent financial and material support reaching Da’esh and Nusrah Front.  Emphasizing that the humanitarian situation would keep getting worse without a political solution, she expressed disappointment that the Council had been unable to agree a response to the humanitarian situation throughout Syria.  “We must do better as a Council,” she concluded.

MATTHEW RYCROFT (United Kingdom), citing a Human Rights Watch report, called on the Russian Federation to cease using incendiary munitions and to use its influence on the regime to end all attacks on civilians.  Other reports had described chlorine gas attacks in Idlib and Aleppo.  “Those committing these horrors have a responsibility to change this reality and yet they show no willingness to do so,” he said, calling for a halt to indiscriminate attacks on medical facilities and civilians and for ensuring guaranteed safe and sustained access for humanitarian agencies and a resumption of political talks.  Weekly 48-hour pauses to get aid into Aleppo would be a step forward.  Omran Daqneesh had become the conflict’s human face, but there were 13.5 million others like him in Syria who were in desperate need of humanitarian assistance.  The United Kingdom stood ready to play its part, he said, imploring others on the Council to do so, as well.

ALEXIS LAMEK (France) said the regime’s support for a cessation of hostilities had concealed a strictly military strategy and it was the Security Council’s responsibility to put an end to the military logic at play.  The United Nations humanitarian plan for August had been a serious failure and July had hardly faired any better.  No commitments had been implemented, bombings had continued and humanitarian access had been denied.  Paying tribute to the White Helmets, he said weekly humanitarian pauses were the least that could be done and should have been implemented long ago.  A lasting cessation of hostilities throughout the country was essential as it would allow for credible political talks to take place.  He called for the implementation of resolution 2254 (2015), including a Syrian-led political process with a view to the full implementation of the 2012 Geneva communiqué.  He went on to urge those who supported the regime to work towards the implementation of commitments made in the Council.

CRISTINA CARRIÓN (Uruguay) said medical and health professionals had become targets of bombings, stressing that four babies born in recent days had died as a result of such attacks.  She looked forward to the Secretary-General’s recommendations on the implementation of resolution 2268 (2016), urging the Council to find solutions that would help to stop the war and condemning attacks by the armed group Nour al-Din al-Zinki.  The Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for Syria was correct to suspend the International Syria Support Group meeting.  All parties should accept weekly humanitarian pauses, repeatedly requested by the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, she said, stressing that not a single humanitarian convoy had arrived to besieged areas in August, a failure of the Security Council to support those agencies.  She supported the requested truce and called on those with influence on the parties to act responsibly in order to ensure immediate access for aid.  A strengthened cessation of hostilities must create an environment for aid delivery, while resumed talks must achieve a political transition.  The Council could not allow Syrians to believe it had abandoned them, she concluded.

JUAN MANUEL GONZÁLEZ DE LINARES PALOU (Spain), associating himself with New Zealand’s statement, urged all to ensure that civilians in Aleppo and throughout Syria received protection and assistance from impartial actors, in full respect of humanitarian principles.  There should be a cessation of attacks on schools, hospitals and camps alongside unrestricted access to surgical and medical equipment for those in need.  It was vital to ensure a 48-hour humanitarian pause and he welcomed that, on 18 August, the International Syrian Support Group co-chairs had agreed to support that initiative.  He urged them, and States with influence over the parties to conflict, to ensure the ceasefire was respected and humanitarian access was allowed.  He also urged renewed talks between the parties, noting that Spain would continue to support the work of the co-chairs.

YURIY VITRENKO (Ukraine) said the Council continued to use “the same bunch of words” and breach commitments, showing it had been unable to prevent tragedy in Aleppo.  Noting that 233 civilians, including 142 children, had been killed in indiscriminate fire between rebel and Government forces in the first two weeks of August, he said.  President Bashar al-Assad had continued to hold people hostage to his plans to change the equation on the ground.  Military activities had continued unabated, including in Aleppo, Idlib, Homs and elsewhere.  He welcomed all efforts to alleviate the situation, notably through the Jordan-Syria border-crossing.  He expressed alarm over accounts of the use of incendiary weapons by the Russian Federation, urging the Secretariat to present to the Security Council its findings from an investigation into such actions.  Concerned at cruise missile strikes from the Mediterranean towards Aleppo on 20 August, he encouraged the Russian Federation to provide information in that regard.  More broadly, he called on all parties to provide unconditional and sustained access to all besieged areas.

JOÃO IAMBENO GIMOLIECA (Angola) said that calls for immediate humanitarian access to all areas of Syria, including Aleppo, had fallen on deaf ears.  Members of the International Syria Support Group and the Council must keep making efforts to get all parties to the conflict to accept proposals for humanitarian pauses, which would allow supplies to cross lines and borders.  Besides improving humanitarian assistance, such pauses could provide more room for dialogue on a long-term cessation of hostilities.  He supported Mr. O’Brien’s proposal for more humanitarian corridors and hoped that all sides to the conflict would be receptive.  It was important to redouble efforts to ensure that such proposals were met, given the growing threat posed by ISIL, Nusrah Front and other groups.

YOSHIFUMI OKAMURA (Japan) United Nations humanitarian aid must move firmly forward and the Four Towns ceasefire agreement covering Zabadani, Madaya, Fu'ah and Kafraya and surrounding areas must be implemented.  “This is the time for influential countries in the region to play a leading role,” he said, also urging the Government of Syria and all related parties to ensure the safety of United Nations and non-governmental organization personnel on the ground.  The Russian Federation’s readiness to support a 48-hour military pause in Aleppo would be critically important, but cooperation from opposition forces was also essential.  The Council should appeal to the Government of Syria, opposition forces and all influential parties in that regard.  The international community was now watching to see whether the Security Council and the International Syria Support Group could improve the situation on the ground.  “Our credibility is on the line,” he said.  Once a pause or ceasefire was attained, in parallel with the pursuit of a political solution, consideration should be given to supporting early recovery and strengthening the resilience of Syrian society in order to prevent recurring crises.

WILMER ALFONZO MÉNDEZ GRATEROL (Venezuela) said that since the start of 2016, humanitarian workers had reached 68 per cent of the besieged population in Syria, more than 400,000 people, while World Health Organization (WHO) vaccination campaigns had been carried out.  Aleppo had been besieged by armed groups that had links to Al-Qaida, he said, condemning acts that had led to the loss of life.  The humanitarian issue should be impartial.  Syria was obliged to protect citizens, as it had been doing in areas under its control.  The Council should step up efforts to find a peaceful solution to conflict, he said, expressing hope that the Russian Federation and United States could continue find areas of understanding towards that end.  He urged continued bilateral consultations and supported the call for a 48-hour pause and the Russian announcement of humanitarian corridors in Aleppo.  Sieges contravened international humanitarian law, he said, condemning the destruction of hospitals and water and electricity installations.  He also condemned the denial of humanitarian access by ISIL, which, along with Nusrah Front, had threatened peace in the region and must be fought with all possible means.  He called on parties to the conflict, and those with influence on them, to work towards resumed negotiations.

MICHELE SISON (United States) recalled the images of a traumatized boy sitting in an ambulance wiping dirt and blood from his hand.  That boy had faced the horror of Russian and Syrian air strikes that had pummelled his neighbourhood daily and had caused his brother’s death.  Nationwide, the Assad regime had drawn on Russian assistance to continue the conflict, she said, citing examples of such in Daraa governorate, Idlib, Aleppo and Darayya.  The Assad regime had shown no hesitation to deploy the most gruesome tactics, from “starve-and-surrender” efforts to the use of barrel bombs, and had failed to provide unfettered humanitarian access.  The regime was responsible for 78 per cent of civilians living under siege, she said, expressing support for the use of humanitarian pauses and stressing the imperative that all armed groups must respect those pauses and work with the United Nations to allow access into Aleppo.  The regime’s destruction of hospitals and medical facilities and the shortage of medical care in eastern Aleppo were prompting calls for medical evacuations, which the regime consistently had denied.  She called for an end to the sieges, use of barrel bombs and other attacks on civilians.

VITALY CHURKIN (Russian Federation) asked if others had considered the consequences of invading Iraq or the spiral of violence in Syria resulting from the supply of weapons to one party.  The humanitarian situation in Syria remained difficult and the Government was doing all it could, despite sanctions, to ensure that civilians had a normal life.  For its part, the Russian Federation had provided several tonnes of humanitarian assistance and believed that a pause should not be used by fighters to regroup or to replenish their supplies.  The number of Syrian towns that had joined the reconciliation process had grown to 444 while the number of armed groups committed to a cessation of hostilities remained unchanged at 69.  Focusing efforts on combating terrorism did not mean underplaying humanitarian aid, he said.  Six corridors had been established for people to leave Aleppo, but they could not be used to supply weapons to extremists.  Stronger controls were needed for material crossing the border.  He asked what those who expressed concern about the humanitarian situation had done to solve the conflict in Syria, and whether any pressure had been put on opposition groups to end a horrible war and the use of suicide bombers.  Some Council members had not engaged in a proper, honest discussion, he said, calling on Western partners to stop their rhetoric and consider what the people they were sponsoring in Syria were doing.  Maybe then would the situation change, he concluded.

FODÉ SECK (Senegal) said the cessation of hostilities seemed to have been seriously compromised.  Parties to the conflict, particularly the Government of Syria, had an obligation to respect international human rights and humanitarian law.  The International Syria Support Group and especially its co-chairs, the United States and Russian Federation, were encouraged to bring influence to bear on the Government of Syria to ensure the implementation of a ceasefire.  He welcomed ongoing efforts by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and its partners to help children, including its collaboration with WHO for mass vaccinations.  Calling the humanitarian situation unacceptable, he reiterated Senegal’s appeal for the co-chairs of the International Syria Support Group to concentrate more on an unprecedented humanitarian situation that was worsening by the day.

WU HAITAO (China), commending the International Syria Support Group co-chairs, expressed hope that parties would urge the cessation of hostilities.  China had supported the mitigation of the humanitarian situation and provided several tranches of aid, including food and supplies, to Syria and other regional countries.  A political settlement was the “ultimate way out” of a raft of issues, including the humanitarian situation.  The international community should stay the course and advance such a settlement.  The Special Envoy was pushing for a new round of Geneva talks and all parties should attend those negotiations to find an acceptable solution.  Countries should support the United Nations good offices to sustain the momentum for such a settlement.  Terrorism in the region, including in Syria, was obstructing international relief efforts and international coordination should be strengthened in that regard, he said.

SITI HAJJAR ADNIN (Malaysia) said the image of a blood-soaked five-year old Syrian boy had become a symbol of the tragic consequences of the Syria conflict on civilians.  World Humanitarian Day had come with a powerful reminder that more must be done.  The Council had yet to pronounce on a weekly 48-hour pause in fighting in Aleppo and its continued silence would contravene its call for a political solution.  An immediate support of a weekly humanitarian pause and the full endorsement of its implementation would have been ideal.  Seven weeks on, the Russian Federation had expressed its support for such a pause and the Council must be undivided in providing an endorsement.  That would be a first step amid hope that parties could implement such a truce.  A pause must be sustained in the long-run, she said, emphasizing that it was not a one-off event.  She urged all parties to allow humanitarian access, noting that this week was a crucial one for Syria.  In addition to a possible pause in Aleppo, the Special Envoy had sought to renew intra-Syrian peace talks in Geneva.  A political solution was the only way forward, she said, expressing hope that a cessation of hostilities between the Government and opposition forces could be worked out.

BASHAR JA’AFARI (Syria) said the Government was not responsible for the bombing of the neighbourhood in Aleppo that had been directly linked to the story of Omran Daqneesh, the child, like many others, who had suffered from the conflict and the conspiracy against Syria.  He recalled several previous incidents involving “the so-called international alliance”, including one in April 2014 in which several children had been killed after an attack on a centre for deaf and mute people.  That self-proclaimed alliance had never sought the approval of the Government of Syria to conduct air operations nor had it ever been invited into Syria.  That action had been a flagrant violation of the fundamental principles of the United Nations.

The victims in Aleppo, Damascus and elsewhere, he said, had been Syrian civilians and no one in the world cared more for Syrian lives, or felt their pain, than the Government of Syria.  No one besides the Syrians had paid the heavy toll that terrorism had imposed on Syria.  Citing Article 2 of the Charter of the United Nations, which referred to Member States as having to refrain from the threat or use of force, he said Syria had been one of the world’s safest and most stable countries, self-sufficient in basic needs and welcoming to refugees, including those fleeing the Anglo-American invasion of Iraq.  That situation had changed when “friends of the Syrian people” convened in 2012, taking decisions that had led to acts of decapitation, the eating of human parts, the slaughter of scientists and the plundering of factories, food, oil, gas, monuments and infrastructure.  Syrians would never forget that “friendship,” he said.

Then came the international alliance, he went on to say, noting that it had had no United Nations approval and had targeted innocent civilians and infrastructure.  Its destruction of gas and oil installations had cost at least $2 billion, while a single air strike by “American pigeons of peace” had resulted in the loss of an electrical plant worth $1.5 billion.  The most responsibility for those losses rested with the Governments that had falsely claimed to be friends of the Syrian people.  They had opened doors for terrorists from all over the world, smuggled tons of weapons, established training centres, recruited children and opened their coffers to finance a terrorist war against Syria.  They had also engaged in despicable economic terrorism with unilateral coercive measures that had exacerbated the suffering of the Syrian people.

Aleppo had been safe and stable for one and a half years until some countries, including Turkey and Saudi Arabia, prompted armed terrorist groups to attack the city and take its people as hostages, he said.  By its actions, the Syrian Government had sought to protect civilians from those groups.  The Government questioned the distortion of facts in the Secretariat’s report on the humanitarian situation, which contained information from unreliable sources.  Any United Nations report should not draw from open sources or from those run and financed by hostile foreign intelligence services.  Quoting from The Dirty War on Syria by Tim Anderson, he said the conflict had depended on mass disinformation, with big Powers using proxy armies on the pretence of rescuing the Syrian people.

Mr. LAMEK (France), taking the floor for a second time, said he would have expected Syria’s representative to have referred to the current situation and the need for 48-hour humanitarian pauses, as well as real issues of importance, rather than a list of “absurd” issues on which the Council should spend no more time.

Mr. JA’AFARI (Syria) said what his French counterpart had described as “absurd” claims applied to the policies of successive governments in France.  He would not use terms like “the French regime” because he was a diplomat and understood that such language was beneath the dignity of “lofty spheres”.  France was hostile to Syria and had been so for decades.  Syria would never forget the colonial era, the period of French occupation following the Sykes-Picot Agreement.  Everyone present today, if they had been listening, would have known he had referred at length to the obstacles preventing a political solution to the crisis.  He regretted that a representative of a permanent Council member State had spoken in a way that was unrelated to the topic.  People around the world understood that the policies of their countries, when it came to Syria, were wrong.  “How long are you going to work to destroy sovereign Member States of this organization?”, he asked, noting that “Korea”, Iraq and Libya had been invaded based on lies.

*     The 7756th Meeting was closed.

For information media. Not an official record.