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The EU thanks the Commission of Inquiry for this morning’s oral update. We take this opportunity to express our continued support to the important mandate the CoI has in terms of shedding light on violations and abuses of human rights and IHL violations committed in Syria. Together with the International, Impartial and Independent Mechanism, it plays a vital role in efforts to promote accountability and ensure that impunity does not prevail for atrocities committed during the conflict.
The EU is deeply concerned by the situation in the north-west of Syria, namely in the provinces of Idlib and northern Hama. After more than eight years of conflict the Syrian population continues to suffer indiscriminate shelling, airstrikes, bombing and attacks. Military strikes by Syrian regime forces - supported by Russia - have destroyed IDP camps, schools and health facilities, which should be the very safest spaces. More than 230 civilians have lost their lives, more than 330,000 have fled in just six weeks, and three million more remain at risk. The EU warns against any use of chemical weapons in this context after the Syrian Arab Army has been found responsible for at least four cases of use of chlorine and sarin by the UN-OPCW Joint Investigative Mechanism.
The EU firmly calls on all sides to fully respect International Humanitarian Law. We strongly condemn the indiscriminate attacks on civilians, hospitals and schools, including the use of barrel bombs. The EU reaffirms its firm determination to hold accountable those who violate IHL.
The continued presence and activities of UN-listed terrorist groups in the area contribute to the suffering of civilians, and remain of grave concern. Yet fighting terrorist groups cannot justify violations of IHL.
The EU calls on all sides to restore an immediate cease fire and demands that all sides abide by it, ensuring the protection of and unhindered humanitarian assistance to the civilian population, and giving space for the start of a genuine Syrian political process.
The EU fully supports UN-led efforts towards a political settlement in line with UNSCR 2254, but there can be no hope of progress while violence continues. The EU reiterates that there can be no military solution to the conflict in Syria. Only a credible, negotiated political solution can end the Syria crisis.
I thank you.