Laurent Fabius, "after Kobane, saving Aleppo is key"
French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius on Tuesday called on the international community opposing jihadists from the Islamic State to focus efforts on Aleppo, Syria’s second-largest city and ’’the bastion of the moderate opposition’’, threatened both by regime and jihadi forces.
Halted at the last minute in Kobane, the Daesh terrorist group is now dispatching its murderers to other points along the Syrian-Turkish border. And at the end of the road lies Aleppo, the bastion of the moderate opposition.
Syria’s second-largest city and part of humanity’s heritage, Aleppo—which has been under constant bombardment from Bashar al-Assad’s forces since 2012—is the martyred center of the resistance. Now Aleppo is caught between the regime’s barrel bombs and Daesh’s cutthroats.
It is almost entirely encircled. The city is connected to the outside by only a single road leading to Turkey. In keeping with its starvation policy, the regime is seeking to destroy the resistance through cold and hunger. Three hundred thousand Aleppans are still holding on, although a million have already left the city and joined the flood of refugees. They are threatened with the same horrific death that the regime inflicted on Homs last year, and which it is imposing on the suburbs of Damascus.
The dictator prefers to deliver Aleppo to terrorist atrocities, even if that means allowing Daesh to flourish on the city’s eastern edge. Aleppo’s residents will then pay for Kobane, where Daesh has been halted for the time being..
In fact, Bashar al-Assad and Daesh are the two faces of the same barbaric coin. It was Bashar who largely created this monster, by deliberately releasing the jihadists who would fuel this movement. It was his underhanded intent to appear, in the eyes of the world, as the sole bulwark against terrorism. But the facts contradict this charade; how many times has the regime—so ready to attack its own people—bombed Daesh? Did it ever try and save Kobane from disaster, even while the Kurdish PYD fought at its side? No, it chose to do nothing.
For these two faces of barbarism share a common aim: to destroy the moderate opposition. Thus their choice to target its bastion, Aleppo, which represents a political alternative, the only one likely to preserve the prospect of an open, pluralistic, democratic Syria—the Syria that the regime and Daesh reject with all their might.
Abandoning Aleppo would mean condemning Syria to decades of violence. It would mean the death of any political future. It would mean the break-up of a country delivered up to increasingly radicalized warlords. It would mean exporting Syria’s domestic chaos to its already vulnerable Iraqi, Lebanese and Jordanian neighbors. And make no mistake: Bashar al-Assad, one warlord among others, will not defeat them, just as he is incapable of defeating Daesh today.
Abandoning Aleppo would mean condemning 300,000 men, women and children to a terrible fate: a murderous siege under regime bombs or the terrorist barbarity of Daesh.
France cannot resign itself to the break-up of Syria or to the abandonment of 300,000 Aleppans to a horrible fate. That is why—together with our coalition partners—France wants to focus its efforts on Aleppo. With two clear objectives: strengthening our support for the moderate Syrian opposition, and protecting the civilian population from the twin crimes of the regime and Daesh. After Kobane, we must save Aleppo.