France calls for end to Aleppo ‘massacre’

French minister urged the international community to ‘do everything’ to end the ‘massacre’ after fighting resumed

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France’s foreign minister urged the international community to “do everything” to end the “massacre” in the Syrian city of Aleppo on Sunday after fighting resumed following a 72-hour truce declared by Damascus ally Russia. Speaking in the southeastern province of Gaziantep, Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault said: “We’re 150 km – perhaps no further – from Aleppo. And right now bombing, artillery continue to destroy this city and massacre the population.”

For Syrian refugees to have the chance to return to their country, “we must do everything to stop this massacre” and resume negotiations to reach a political agreement. “We cannot come to a negotiation under the bombs... The total war solution is not a solution,” Ayrault added as the city was again hit by air strikes and heavy clashes overnight, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

Ayrault said the urgency must be to stop the bombing and provide access to humanitarian aid for the first time since July 7. Outgoing UN chief Ban Ki-moon has said food rations will run out by the end of the month in Aleppo, where 500 people have been killed since the regime last month launched an operation to recapture eastern Aleppo.

During a visit later to a refugee camp in Nizip, southeastern Turkey, the minister reiterated a demand for a UN Security Council resolution condemning the use of chemical weapons in Syria and “sanctions” against the perpetrators. “We hope that this resolution is not hampered by the use of the veto. If that were the case, it would be a form of complicity with what is happening ... in Syria,” he said, indirectly addressing Russia.

Ayrault had called for a UN resolution on Saturday after UN experts said in a report that the Syrian army had attacked a village with chemical weapons last year. Moscow is one of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's strongest backers, providing military support to the regime. The French minister will meet with his Turkish counterpart Mevlut Cavusoglu in the capital Ankara on Monday to discuss both Syria and the battle against ISIS, French officials told AFP.

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