The coalition fighting Islamic State must now save Syria’s second city Aleppo as moderate rebels face destruction by attacks from forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad and jihadi militants, France’s Foreign Minister said.
Laurent Fabius said the city, the “bastion” of the opposition, was almost encircled and abandoning it would end hopes of a political solution in Syria’s three-year civil war.
“Abandoning Aleppo would condemn 300,000 men, women and children to a terrible choice: the murderous siege of the regime’s bombs or the barbarity of the Islamic State terrorists,” Fabius wrote.
“It would condemn Syria to years of violence. It would be the death of any political perspective and would see the fragmentation of the country run by increasingly radicalised warlords. It would also export the internal chaos of Syria towards already fragile neighbors Iraq, Lebanon and Jordan.”
As U.S. warplanes bomb Islamic State in parts of Syria, Assad’s military has intensified its own campaign against some of the rebel groups in the west and north of the country that Washington considers its allies, including in and around Aleppo.
Fabius’ comments came just three days after Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan was in Paris to meet President Francois Hollande. During that visit Erdogan sought to get backing from Paris for his calls to tackle Assad as well as Islamic State.