Monday 22 January 2018

Johnson: Russia and Iran 'deserve no credit'

British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson Photo: Rick Findler/PA Wire
British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson Photo: Rick Findler/PA Wire
Evacuees from rebel-held east Aleppo, arrive to the town of al-Rashideen, which is held by insurgents. Photo: Reuters
A Syrian man carrying an elderly woman to a bus for evacuation from eastern Aleppo, Syria. Photo: Thiqa News via AP
This image released by the Thiqa News Agency, shows civilians, some flashing victory signs, inside a bus that is evacuating people from eastern Aleppo, Syria. Photo: Thiqa News via AP
In this photo released by the Syrian official news agency SANA, shows residents gather near green government buses and a number of the Syrian Arab Red Crescent ambulances, for evacuating from eastern Aleppo, Syria. Photo: SANA via AP
Green government buses carrying residents evacuating from eastern Aleppo. Photo: SANA via AP
Residents gather near green government buses for evacuating from eastern Aleppo. Photo: AP
Residents gather near a green government bus for evacuating from eastern Aleppo. Photo: AP
A man pushes a cart with a woman lying on it as vehicles wait to evacuate people from a rebel-held sector of eastern Aleppo. Photo: Reuters
Residents gather near a green government bus for evacuating from eastern Aleppo. Photo: SANA via AP

Sara Elizabeth Williams in Aleppo

British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson conveyed his "profound concern" to Russia and Iran yesterday over their role in the "suffering" of the people of Aleppo, as the first convoys of evacuees rumbled out of the city.

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, backed by Moscow and Tehran, hailed the "liberation" of the city as up to 2,000 people were transported to opposition areas in neighbouring Idlib province.

Mr Johnson summoned the Russian and Iranian ambassadors in separate meetings to express his concern over their military involvement, saying their leaders "cannot expect praise for allowing some people to escape at the final hour".

He said in a statement: "Both Russia and Iran have failed to uphold their obligations under international humanitarian law, specifically by failing to facilitate the delivery of humanitarian aid to civilians during the months when eastern Aleppo was besieged. They deserve no credit for the fact that an evacuation appears to be under way today."

Michael Fallon, the British Defence Secretary, earlier said the crisis in Aleppo was "a tragedy of Russia's making".

While many residents and rebel fighters lamented leaving their homes, Mr Assad proclaimed the city's "liberation" as "history in the making", for which he congratulated the Syrian people.

In this photo released by the Syrian official news agency SANA, residents gather near green government buses for evacuation from eastern Aleppo. Photo: AP
In this photo released by the Syrian official news agency SANA, residents gather near green government buses for evacuation from eastern Aleppo. Photo: AP

But the government's victory, aided by its ally Russia, does not mark the end of the Syrian war.

Mr Assad must still wrest more than half of the country, Idlib, Daraa and several other cities from a panoply of armed groups including the US and UK-backed Free Syrian Army, al-Qa'ida and Isil, and cope with an international community growing more opposed to his rule by the day.

Yesterday Mr Fallon reiterated the UK and US position that Mr Assad could not continue to rule Syria.

He said: "We don't see a future for President Assad in Syria." (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent

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