Barack Obama on Aleppo: ‘Syria’s Assad, Russia and Iran have blood on hands’

Washington: Bashar al-Assad’s Syrian regime and its Russian and Iranian backers have blood on their hands, US President Barack Obama has said while pitching for an impartial international observer force in Aleppo to coordinate an orderly evacuation through safe corridors.

“The Syrian regime and its Russian and Iranian allies are trying to obfuscate the truth. The world should not be fooled and the world will not forget,” Obama told White House reporters at his final year ender news conference.

Around the world as well, there are hotspots where disputes have been intractable, conflicts have flared up, and people, innocent people are suffering as result, and nowhere is this more terribly true than in the city of Aleppo, he said.

“For years, we’ve worked to stop the civil war in Syria and alleviate human suffering. It has been one of the hardest issues that I’ve faced as president,” Obama said.

US President Barack Obama. AP

US President Barack Obama. AP

US President Barack Obama. AP

The world, he said, is united in horror at the savage assaults by the Syrian regime and its Russian and Iranian allies on the city of Aleppo.

“We have seen a deliberate strategy of surrounding, besieging and starving innocent civilians. We’ve seen relentless targeting of humanitarian workers and medical personnel, and entire neighbourhoods reduced to rubble and dust. There are continuing reports of civilians being executed. These are all horrific violations of international law,” the US President said.

“Responsibility for this brutality lies in one place alone, with the Assad regime and its allies, Russia and Iran, and this blood and these atrocities are on their hands,” Obama said.

“We all know what needs to happen,” he said, adding that there needs to be an impartial international observer force in Aleppo that can help coordinate an orderly evacuation through safe corridors.

“There has to be full access for humanitarian aid, even as the United States continues to be the world’s largest donor of humanitarian aid to the Syrian people. And beyond that, there needs to be a broader ceasefire that can serve as the basis for a political rather than a military solution,” Obama said.

“That’s what the United States is gonna continue to push for, both with our partners and through multilateral institutions like the UN,” he said, but regretted Russia repeatedly blocking the Security Council from taking action on these issues.

Soon after the news conference Obama left for Hawaii on his final year ender vacation as the President of the United States. The government took “a somewhat courageous step” of withdrawing high demonetisation currency and went in for a large currency swap.

“So we are going to keep pressing the Security Council to help improve the delivery of humanitarian aid to those who are in such desperate need and ensure accountability, including continuing to monitor any potential use of chemical weapons in Syria,” Obama said.

“We are going to work in the UN General Assembly as well, both on accountability and to advance a political settlement because it should be clear that although you may achieve tactical victories, over the long-term, the Assad regime cannot slaughter its way to legitimacy,” he said.

“That’s why we’ll continue to press for a transition to a more representative government, and that’s why the world must not avert our eyes to the terrible events that are unfolding,” Obama said.

First Published On : Dec 17, 2016 13:04 IST

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