The European Union (E.U.) foreign policy chief Josep Borrell on Thursday said “bombings and other attacks on civilians in northwest Syria must stop,” issuing a special “stern warning” backed by European crisis commissioner Janez Lenarčič and other diplomats.
Borrell said more than 500,000 people have been forced to flee their homes during the last two months alone, noting bombs are falling on densely-populated areas.
The E.U. noted it has already sent billions in aid to the area and is now seeking a response. Its statement warned in part:
More than 500,000 people have been forced to flee their homes during the last two months alone, and are facing harsh winter conditions without being able to cover basic needs for shelter, water, food or health services. Serious violations of international humanitarian law have become commonplace.
Through its humanitarian aid partners on the ground, the European Union has been providing emergency assistance to millions of people in need in Syria since the start of the conflict. More than €17 billion have been mobilised by the European Union and its Member States to support the most vulnerable people inside Syria and in neighbouring countries. The European Union will continue to provide humanitarian assistance as long as the needs persist.
Meanwhile, the Syrian government offensive in Idlib continues to roll on unchecked.
“We expect Russia to stop the regime as soon as possible,” Turkey’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Mevlut Cavusoglu told reporters in the Azerbaijani capital Baku.
The fighting is taking place despite a January 12 ceasefire agreement between Turkey and Russia.
The conflict in Syria has killed more than 380,000 people since 2011 and has driven more than half of the pre-war population of more than 20 million people into exile.
The U.N.’s calls for an immediate ceasefire came as Syrian state media said Israel launched strikes against several targets near Damascus and claimed the country’s air defenses downed a number of missiles, as Breitbart News reported.
“Our air defenses confronted an Israeli attack” west of the capital, said state news agency SANA, adding the attack was carried out from airspace in the Israeli Golan Heights. They “were able to shoot down most of the enemy missiles before they reached their targets,” SANA said.
Defense analysts routinely dismiss such claims by the Syrian regime as empty boasts. AFP correspondents in several districts of Damascus heard loud explosions around 1:15 a.m. State television broadcast images showing explosions in the sky as Syrian anti-aircraft missiles detonated in the air.