Syrian opposition call for UN's Syrian envoy's resignation

Syrian opposition call for UN's Syrian envoy's resignation
The Syrian Interim Government has slammed suggestions by the UN's Syria envoy that if a hard line rebel group leaves Aleppo the bombing of the city would halt.
3 min read
07 October, 2016
De Mistura has called on the al-Qaeda linked Fatah al-Sham to leave Aleppo [Getty]
Syria's opposition government has called for the UN Syria envoy to resign after comments on the mass bombing of Aleppo city by regime and Russian war planes.

In a statement the Ankara-backed Syrian interim government said that comments made by Staffan de Mistura on Thursday constituted a "violation of humanitarian principles" and the "professional criteria" of the UN.

On Thursday, an emotional de Mistura made a startling and impassioned plea to rebels from the al-Qaeda linked Fatah al-Sham group to leave East Aleppo even offering to "physically accompany" fighters during the withdrawal.

The Fatah al-Sham dilemma

De Mistura said that Fatah al-Sham fighters made up around 900 of the estimated 8,000 rebel fighters holed up in East Aleppo. Around 275,000 civilians are also besieged in the area, unable to leave.

The UN envoy for Syria suggested that if Fatah al-Sham did not leave then Aleppo could face "total destruction" by the end of the year.

He claimed that the presence of the group - formerly known as al-Nusra Front - provided the Syrian regime and its Russian backers with an excuse to pound the east of the city.

However, the Syrian Interim Government viewed de Mistura's comments as being biased against the rebels and "ignoring" Russian and Syrian crimes.

By asking Fatah al-Sham to leave the opposition said the UN Syria chief was siding with the Syrian regime and "justifiying” their slaughter of hundreds of civilians over the past weeks.

Since a US-Russian brokered ceasefire for Syria collapsed in September pro-regime forces - backed by Russian warplanes - have embarked on a relentless bombing campaign of East Aleppo.

The violence has been so strong that the usually compliant Obama administration said it might reconsider military intervention against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's forces.

On Friday, Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Moscow was prepared to accept de Mistura's plan on Fatah al-Sham's withdrawal from Aleppo.

During an interview with Danish television on Thursday, Assad also called on rebels to put down their arms and leave with their families claiming that pro-regime forces would give them safe passage.

However, during the interview Assad vowed to take back all of Aleppo "whatever the costs".

Rebels and residents of East Aleppo remain sceptical of Assad's words.

Speaking to The New Arab Nagham Ghadri, a member of the presidential committee of the opposition Syrian National Council, noted that residents of East Aleppo had little faith in the Syrian regime.

"They are under siege. Russia and Assad have claimed that the road is open for people to leave but they are also scared that if they did leave that pro-regime militias would try to kill them. The situation is very bad."