Paris: A former prime minister Riad Hijab, representative of opposition in Syria, said on Monday there would be no peace talks while “foreign forces” were bombing the country. Hijab was chosen in December as general coordinator of several opposition groups which are preparing for possible talks with the government in Damascus.
“We cannot negotiate with the regime while there are foreign forces bombing the Syrian people,” Hijab said after talks with French President Francois Hollande in Paris. His visit to France comes two weeks ahead of proposed UN-brokered peace talks to seek an end to a conflict that has claimed more than a quarter of a million lives since it began nearly five years ago.
“We want to negotiate, we are serious, but for that, the conditions need to be met,” Hijab added.
He mentioned a “massacre” in north-western Aleppo where he said Russian forces “bombed three schools… killing more than 35 children. “The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a British-based monitoring group, said 12 pupils and three adults including a teacher, were killed in a Russian air strike on a school in Aleppo.
Hollande said the regime must stop “indiscriminate bombings and policies aimed at starving entire villages in flagrant violation of international law” if it was serious about the talks. He called for “immediate humanitarian measures” in areas under siege, such as the rebel-held town of Madaya . In Madaya thousands people are being starved to death by Shia militias including Hizbollah and Assad forces.