France wants humanitarian corridors in Syria
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France wants the UN to consider setting up “humanitarian corridors” in Syria, French Foreign Affairs Minister Alain Juppé said Wednesday. The West is trying to persuade Moscow to support a new resolution on the conflict there, but his Russian counterpart dubbed efforts to “isolate” Bashar al-Assad’s regime “a mistake”.
The UN General Assembly is to vote on a resolution condemning Bashar al-Assad’s repression of opposition protests on Thursday evening and France hopes to win 130 to 140 votes, Juppé said.
Humanitarian corridors should be established to get aid to “zones where there are absolutely scandalous massacres”, the minister told France Info radio, reviving a proposal Paris first raised in November.
But there seemed to be no change in the position of Russian Foreign Affairs Minister Sergei Lavrov.
Speaking in The Hague, he opposed “outside interference” and called for dialogue, which “must be inclusive and Syrian”.
"Unfortunately, some of our partners long ago wrote off the government of Syria," Lavrov told reporters after talks with his Dutch counterpart Uri Rosenthal. "Instead of a dialogue, there is an attempt to isolate the Syrian government. This is a mistake."
Chinese officials, too, warned against taking "wrong initiatives" that might lead to "more bllod being spilt".
France on Tuesday set up a million-euro emergency fund for “humanitarian” aid in Syria and is discussing the Arab League plan, which raises the possibility of sending UN troops, with its allies.
Developments in Syria on Wednesday included:
- A referendum on a new Syrian constitution will take place on 26 February, the official news agency, Sana, announced Wednesday, while local media report it is likely to limit the president’s mandate to two seven-year terms;
- An oil pipeline in Homs, a focus of opposition demonstrations, was on fire Wednesday, opposition activists said pro-regime troops shelled it, state media blamed "armed terrorist gangs”;
- Pro-Assad troops stormed the central city of Hama, according to opposition sources;
- The Syrian military put up roadblocks around the Barzeh district of Damascus Wednesday and launched house-to-house searches for member of the rebel Free Syrian Army, opposition activists say.
Assad’s regime on Tuesday slammed its foreign critics, accusing some countries of wanting to tarnish its reputation and ignoring “terrorist crimes committed by armed groups” on its soil.
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