Turkey, Iran 'violating international law' in Syria: France

Turkey, Iran 'violating international law' in Syria: France
France's foreign minister has said Iran and Turkey have "violated" international law in Syria and demanded that all Iranian-backed militia, including Lebanon's Hizballah, to withdraw.
3 min read
07 February, 2018
Regime airstrikes killed nearly 70 civilians in Eastern Ghouta on Tuesday [Getty]
Turkey and Iran are violating international law through their actions in Syria, said France's foreign minister on Wednesday, demanding that all Iranian-backed militia, including Lebanon's Hizballah, pulls out of the country.

Jean-Yves Le Drian, speaking on BFM television, added that there were indications Syrian regime forces were using toxic gas against civilians.

On being asked if he wanted Turkish armed forces to withdraw from Syria, Le Drian responded saying that he wanted, "the withdrawal of all those who ought not to be in Syria, including Iranian militia, including Hizballah."

While not explicitly calling for Turkey to pull back from its campaign against Kurdish militias in the northern Syrian region of Afrin, he said Ankara should be careful not to worsen the conflict.

"Ensuring the security of its borders does not mean killing civilians and that should be condemned. In a dangerous situation in Syria, (Turkey) should not add war to war."

France is part of the US-led coalition fighting the Islamic State group and has backed the Syrian opposition during the civil war, now in its seventh year.

International law "is being violated by Turkey, by the Damascus regime, by Iran and those who are attacking Eastern Ghouta and Idlib," Le Drian added in France's toughest line yet on Turkey's Afrin involvement.

Le Drian added that it looked likely that Assad's forces were using chlorine gas in their Russian-backed offensive on rebel-held Idlib province and in the besieged enclave of Eastern Ghouta.

"I'm speaking with a degree of caution because you have to be careful pending full documentation, but all the indications that we have show that at the moment chlorine is being used by the Syrian regime," Le Drian said, adding that an investigation had been opened by the UN.

On Tuesday, the UN called for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire in Syria of at least a month as regime airstrikes killed nearly 70 civilians in the besieged rebel-held enclave of Eastern Ghouta in one day.

Eastern Ghouta and Idlib, a northern province where violence also flared this week, are both so-called de-escalation zones under a deal last year intended to pave the way towards an end to the conflict.

A UN-mandated committee however said the recent escalation in violence "made a mockery" of the deal, which has failed to stem the fighting as the Syrian government continues its nationwide military reconquest.

Last year in May, French president Emmanuel Macron said that chemical weapons were a red line, and that "any use of chemical weapons would result in reprisals and an immediate riposte, at least where France is concerned".