U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power told the UN Security Council that after 7000 years, the very existence of the Syrian city of Aleppo is in doubt. The military escalation that has occurred there in recent days has set the city ablaze and killed more than 270 civilians.
“While all sides have contributed to the violence,” said Ambassador Power, “the military escalation was attributable largely to the actions of a single party: the Assad regime. The regime launched more than 300 airstrikes, 110 artillery strikes, and 18 missiles, and dropped more than 68 bombs on the city over just these last two weeks.”
Ambassador Power rejected claims by the Syrian regime and its supporters that the attacks were aimed at al Nusra or Daesh terrorists. “The sites hit in Aleppo show otherwise,” she said, pointing to the targets that were hit, including an ambulance, a bakery, a public market and a mosque.
The Assad regime, she noted, has taken additional measures that show its overt intent to ratchet up civilian suffering in Aleppo: the restriction of humanitarian access and blocking of aid; the deliberate targeting of first responders, health care workers, and medical facilities: “This is willful targeting.”
Ambassador Power said that there are three tracks necessary to make progress for peace in Syria overall: stopping the fighting; improving humanitarian access; and engaging in political negotiations to bring about transition. This, she noted, is what the Security Council agreed to last December when it passed Resolution 2254. What has been happening in Aleppo shows that all these tracks are in grave peril.
While there is blame to go around, the primary responsibility lies with the Assad regime, said Ambassador Power, which has shown blatant disregard for Resolution 2254 – not only by its actions in Aleppo, but by similar actions throughout the county.
“All those with influence – particularly Russia and Iran – must press the regime to meet is commitments and obligations,” said Ambassador Power. “For our part, the United States will continue pressing the opposition to do the same.. .[and] we will work with our Russian counterparts to try to restore a real and lasting Cessation of Hostilities in Aleppo and elsewhere in Syria, and to facilitate a political transition away from Assad – the only way in which this war will finally end.”