Robert Harneis – TDO - In a communiqué issued from the Elysée Palace President Hollande attacked the Russian veto blocking a United Nations Security Council resolution concerning the siege by government forces of eastern Aleppo. France thus continues with a policy of denigrating Russian actions in Syria, whilst the two the leading candidates in the French presidential elections, François Fillon and Marine Le Pen, have disowned government policy, as has President-elect Trump of the United States.

The French President said “Russia is blocking the UN Security Council and prevents it from carrying out its mission and putting an end to the atrocities.” In a coordinated diplomatic attack, French Ambassador at the UN, François Delattre, accused Russia of having “decided to take Aleppo regardless of the human cost." Earlier his Foreign Secretary, Jean-Marc Ayrault “deplored” Russian obstruction at the Security Council. This verbal French onslaught against Russia curiously spared China, that also vetoed the resolution.

An unusual aspect of this latest war of words over Syria was the Chinese reaction to the Security Council debate. China not only vetoed the resolution but exceptionally the Chinese Ambassador strongly attacked the behavior of the British Ambassador, Nicolas Rycroft, accusing him of making ‘groundless attacks’. Ambassador Liu Jieyi accused Rycroft of “poisoning” the atmosphere and “abusing” the Security Council by his remarks. He asked, “I would like to ask the representative of the United Kingdom, what right does he have to distort positions of other countries? The Security Council is a solemn forum. It is not a place where groundless attacks can be made on other countries positions. Rycroft had earlier made an attack on Russia for holding “to ransom the lives of hundreds of thousands of innocent men, women and children, currently enduring hell in Aleppo.” and having no interest in stopping “horror in Aleppo”. In more measured tones he also criticized China for a “mistaken policy”.

President Hollande was joined by Germany, Canada, the United States, Italy and the United Kingdom in the statement concerning the situation in Aleppo.

Meanwhile events on the ground are making the western accusations appear increasingly irrelevant. It would seem that the fall of eastern Aleppo is imminent, with reports of widespread loss of territory and surrenders within the city by the forces fighting the Syrian government and its allies.

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