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France Calls for Emergency UN Meeting on Syria

France Calls for Emergency UN Meeting on Syria

Sunday, 21 January, 2018 - 13:15
French Foreign Affairs Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian arrives at the Elysee Palace in Paris, France, January 5, 2018. REUTERS/Benoit Tessier

France has called for an emergency meeting of the United Nations Security Council over "humanitarian risks" as fighting escalates in Syria, French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said on Sunday in Algiers.

"France is very preoccupied by the situation in Syria and by the brutal degradation of the situation," Le Drian said.

His comments came after Turkish forces on Saturday launched an operation to oust Kurdish militia from the northern Syrian enclave of Afrin.

"This is why we have called for a Security Council meeting to evaluate all the humanitarian risks, which are very serious," he said on the sidelines of a meeting for western Mediterranean countries. He added that he had spoken with his Turkish counterpart Mevlut Cavusoglu on Sunday morning.

Turkish ground forces pushed into northern Syria’s Afrin province on Sunday, the army said, after Turkey launched artillery and air strikes on a US-backed Kurdish militia it aims to sweep from its border.

After speaking with his Turkish counterpart, Le Drian said that France has asked Turkey to act with restraint in Syria.

“France calls on Turkish authorities to act with restraint in a difficult context, with the humanitarian situation deteriorating in several regions of Syria as a consequence of the military actions of the Damascus regime and its allies,” Le Drian said in a statement.

The French minister also mentioned tens of thousands of Syrians trapped in a besieged rebel stronghold outside Damascus, Eastern Ghouta, which has come under deadly regime bombardment this week.

He spoke of tens of thousands more forced to flee fighting between Russia-backed regime forces and jihadists in the northwestern province of Idlib.

Le Drian called for a halt to fighting and demanded access to humanitarian aid for all.

Idlib and Eastern Ghouta were two of four "de-escalation zones" agreed last year by rebel backer Turkey and regime allies Iran and Russia.

"It is important that everything be done for the ceasefires to be applied very soon and that a political solution finally be embarked upon," he said.

Since it erupted in 2011, Syria's conflict has killed more than 340,000 people and displaced millions.

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