The French Minister of Foreign Affairs, Jean-Yves Le Drian, went to Moscow on 27 February 2018. The French press has presented this visit as an effort by Paris to come to help out the Syrians that populate Eastern Ghouta. As it so happens, this meeting had been planned for quite some time in the context of building cultural relations between the two countries.

Mr Le Drian’s trip enabled him to observe that the three main armed groups (Aylaq al-Rahmane, Jaich al-Islam and Ahrar al-Cham present) in the Ghouta, had written to the President of the UN Security Council to assure him that they would participate in the cessation of hostilities. To be more precise, Le Drain spoke of “their acceptance of the humanitarian truce”, which legally is not quite the same thing. “It would also be important that the Basshar Al-Assad regime declares this,” he added.

Mr Le Drian seems to be unaware that Damascus is not the regime of one particular individual but is registered with the United Nations under the name of the “Syrian Arab Republic”. He does not seem to have been informed by the French representative that the Syrian representative, Ambassador Bachar Ja’afari, has presented on behalf of his government, Damascus’s agreement to Resolution 2401.

As for AFP [Agence France-Press] and the French media generally, they have not understood the declarations that the Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Sergey Lavrov, made in the presence of Jean-Yves Le Drian. “Those that influence the terrorists that bomb Damascus must assume their responsibility and understand the importance of undertaking to apply Security Council resolutions”, he declared. This was an undisguised reference to France, as several French officials are training Al-Qaeda jihadists in Eastern Ghouta.
From the beginning of the cessation of hostilities, decided by the Security Council, the three groups, after they put their approval in writing to the President of the Council, are bombing without interruption the route which could permit civilians to flee the area.

Anoosha Boralessa