15 December 2016, Brussels – The European Union is working round the clock to protect civilians in Aleppo and all besieged areas, while it continues its initiative to prepare the ground for political transition in Syria, High Representative Federica Mogherini said today.
“We are working day and night literally to try to guarantee the protection of civilians first of all in East Aleppo,” but also “in other areas of the Country”, Mogherini told reporters before today’s European Council meeting. “I spoke on the phone with the Iranian Foreign Minister Zarif to urge Iran as well as we are working with the UN and the others to call on the Russian and Syrian authorities, the Iranians to uphold to their responsibilities and to protect civilians in these hours …. We are behind the delivery of all humanitarian aid that is currently trying to be delivered by the UN”, she went on.
As EU leaders met, reports came in of the departure of almost 1,000 civilians from Aleppo under a new agreement to help people trapped in the Syrian city after months of fierce fighting. The High Representative reminded that the EU is working on an initiative to plan the political transition in Syria, reconciliation and reconstruction: “But first of all you need something to build on and this starts with the protection of civilians, the cessation of hostilities, the ceasefire and a political transition in Damascus. So we are working by the hour, especially with our contacts and with all the regional players to try and create better conditions on the ground.”“No one has an interest in winning a battle and losing the peace. Syria will have to be at a certain moment in the hands of an inclusive, accountable government; will have to face a difficult process of reconciliation; will have to find ways of including all parts of society in the reconstruction.”, she said, “and this can’t be built in the ruins of Aleppo or other cities”.
“We will have to mobilise enormous resources for reconstruction and that would be possible only with a true political transition in Damascus,” Mogherini concluded.
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