MOTION FOR A RESOLUTION – European Parliament resolution on the Situation in Syria

The European Parliament,

– having regard to its previous resolutions on Syria,

– having regard to the statements by the Vice-President / High Representative (VP/HR) and the Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management on Syria of 28 July 2016, 20 September 2016, 24 September 2016, 2 October 2016, 25 October 2016 and 31 October 2016,

– having regard to the joint statement on Syria by the Foreign Ministers of France, Italy, Germany, the United Kingdom and the United States and the VP/HR of 24 September 2016,

– having regard to the Council conclusions on Syria of 17 October 2016,

– having regard to the European Council conclusions on Syria of 20 and 21 October 2016,

– having regard to the Council conclusions on Iran of 14 November 2016,

– having regard to Council Implementing Regulation (EU) 2016/1893 of 27 October 2016 implementing Regulation (EU) No 36/2012 concerning restrictive measures in view of the situation in Syria(1),

– having regard to Council Implementing Decision (CFSP) 2016/1897 of 27 October 2016 implementing Decision 2013/255/CFSP concerning restrictive measures against Syria(2),

– having regard to Council Implementing Regulation (EU) 2016/1984 of 14 November 2016 implementing Regulation (EU) No 36/2012 concerning restrictive measures in view of the situation in Syria(3),

– having regard to Council Implementing Decision (CFSP) 2016/1985 of 14 November 2016 implementing Decision 2013/255/CFSP concerning restrictive measures against Syria(4),

– having regard to the UN Human Rights Council resolutions on the Syrian Arab Republic of 27 September 2016 and 20 October 2016,

– having regard to UN Security Council Resolutions 2268, 2258 and 2254,

– having regard to Rule 123(2) of its Rules of Procedure,

A. whereas in April 2016 the UN Special Envoy for Syria (UNSE), Staffan de Mistura, indicated that 400 000 people had died in the Syrian civil war; whereas according to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees 13.5 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance, 8.7 million people are predicted to be displaced inside Syria in 2016 and 4.8 million people have fled the country;

B. whereas hostilities in Syria have escalated, particularly in Aleppo, which has come under heavy aerial bombardment, including attacks against medical facilities; whereas the Syrian and Russian air forces are using heavy weaponry, including bunker-buster bombs on residential areas; whereas, in eastern Aleppo, hundreds of thousands of people are trapped and hundreds of children have been killed;

C. whereas on 10 November 2016 the Special Advisor to the UNSE, Jan Egeland, urged that action be taken to stave off the threat of mass hunger in eastern Aleppo before the arrival of winter, which he fears could be ‘a real killer’ for a quarter of a million people trapped there; whereas Mr Egeland said that the last time significant humanitarian supplies had reached Aleppo was the beginning of July;

D. whereas there has been a dramatic and rapid deterioration in the situation despite efforts by the international community to establish a cessation of hostilities;

E. whereas deliberate attacks against civilians, including humanitarian and healthcare personnel, and against civilian and medical infrastructure are clear violations of international humanitarian law and may constitute war crimes;

F. whereas torture and ill-treatment are practised on a massive scale in government detention facilities in Syria; whereas the abuses in detention are taking place in the context of a dramatic deterioration in the human rights situation in Syria, where the authorities continue to arrest and detain arbitrarily anyone opposing them, including civilians;

G. whereas Da’esh/ISIL still controls large parts of Syria and Iraq; whereas Da’esh/ISIL commits genocide against religious and ethnic minorities; whereas the Free Syrian Army backed by Turkish airstrikes captured the Syrian town of Dabiq on 16 October;

H. whereas the Nusra Front, al Qaeda’s affiliate in Syria, is a terrorist organisation which rejects a negotiated political transition and inclusive democratic future for Syria;

I. whereas the EU is one of the main contributors of humanitarian aid for people fleeing the historic violence and destruction in Syria;

J. whereas the lack of international unity makes a negotiated settlement of the war in Syria significantly more difficult to achieve; whereas on 8 October 2016 the UN Security Council failed to adopt a resolution to end the bloodshed in eastern Aleppo;

K. whereas on 3 October 2016 the United States announced that it was suspending its participation in bilateral channels with Russia that had been established to sustain the cessation of hostilities; whereas on 15 October a meeting was held in Lausanne between the Foreign Ministers of the United States, Russia, Iran, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Qatar, Jordan and Egypt;

1. Is deeply shocked by the violence in Syria; strongly condemns all attacks against civilians and civilian infrastructure, the continuation of all sieges in Syria and the lack of humanitarian access to the Syrian people in need;

2. Expresses its deepest concern for the human suffering in the besieged areas of Aleppo and throughout Syria which is affecting many women and children, who do not have access to essential humanitarian goods and desperately need food, clean water and medical supplies;

3. Deeply deplores and unconditionally condemns the recent attacks on a humanitarian relief convoy and a Red Crescent warehouse near Aleppo as severe and alarming violations of international humanitarian law and as a possible war crime; pays tribute to the humanitarian workers who died in the effort to assist the people of Aleppo and throughout Syria and extends its sincerest condolences to the families and friends of the victims;

4. Reiterates its call for consequences and accountability for those guilty of committing war crimes and crimes against humanity; stresses that those committing crimes against religious, ethnic and other groups and minorities should also be brought to justice; believes that the situation in Syria should be referred to the International Criminal Court; calls on the UN Security Council to take action in this respect;

5. Welcomes the Council conclusions on Syria of 17 October 2016 and the European Council conclusions on Syria of 20 and 21 October 2016; supports the EU’s call for an end to all military flights over Aleppo city; an immediate cessation of hostilities, to be monitored by a strong and transparent mechanism; sieges to be lifted; and full unhindered sustainable country-wide humanitarian access granted by all parties;

6. Underlines that the Syrian regime has the primary responsibility for the protection of the Syrian population; strongly condemns the excessive and disproportionate attacks by the regime and its allies, both deliberate and indiscriminate, against civilian populations, in particular against children, humanitarian and healthcare personnel and civilian and humanitarian infrastructure;

7. Calls for the immediate release of those detained arbitrarily and for an end to the use of torture and other ill-treatment as well as the practice of enforced disappearances, in accordance with UN Security Council Resolution 2139 of 22 February 2014; calls for immediate and unhindered access for international detention monitors to detainees in Syria;

8. Stresses that the EU has called on Russia, including as co-chair of the International Syria Support Group (ISSG), to demonstrate through policies and actions all efforts, in order to halt indiscriminate bombing by the Syrian regime, restore a cessation of hostilities, ensure immediate and expanded humanitarian access and create the conditions for a credible and inclusive political transition;

9. Strongly condemns the indiscriminate launching of large numbers of rockets by armed opposition groups on civilian suburbs of western Aleppo; stresses that many civilians, including children, have been reportedly wounded and killed;

10. Strongly condemns the human right abuses, war crimes and crimes against humanity committed by Da’esh/ISIL; welcomes the commitment of the Quint nations (the United States, France, Germany, Italy and the United Kingdom) and the VP/HR to the destruction of Da’esh/ISIL in Syria and Iraq; support the efforts of the Global Coalition to counter Da’esh/ISIL in Syria and Iraq; stresses the importance of providing those targeted by Da’esh/ISIL with protection and aid;

11. Strongly condemns the atrocities committed by the Nusra Front; supports the call of the Quint nations and the VP/HR on all armed groups fighting in Syria to cease any collaboration with Nusra;

12. Calls for action to be taken to prevent material and financial support from reaching individuals, groups, undertakings and entities associated with UN-designated terrorist groups;

13. Demands respect by all for the right of religious minorities in Syria, including Christians, to continue to live in their historical and traditional homelands in dignity, equality and safety, and to fully practise their religion and beliefs freely without being subject to any kind of coercion, violence or discrimination; supports interreligious dialogue in order to promote mutual understanding and counter fundamentalism;

14. Welcomes the EU emergency humanitarian initiative for Aleppo, which, in addition to mobilising funds for urgent humanitarian needs, is aimed at ensuring the medical evacuation of wounded and sick people from eastern Aleppo, with a focus on women, children and the elderly; notes that the European Council has invited the VP/HR to continue, together with the Commission, pursuing the emergency humanitarian initiative and medical evacuations in cooperation with the UN;

15. Welcomes the partnership priorities and compacts with Jordan for the period 2016-2018 and with Lebanon for the period 2016-2020; notes that the compacts are the framework through which the mutual commitments made at the London Conference of 4 February 2016 on ‘Supporting Syria and the Region’ are translated into actions;

16. Urges all participants in the ISSG to resume negotiations in order to facilitate the establishment of a stable truce and intensify work on a lasting political settlement in Syria; stresses that regional actors, in particular neighbouring countries, bear special responsibility; fully supports the efforts made by UNSE Staffan de Mistura in this respect;

17. Reiterates its call on the VP/HR to renew efforts towards a common EU-Syria strategy, which should be aimed at facilitating a political settlement in Syria and include monitoring and enforcement tools to strengthen compliance with agreements and obligations established within the ISSG; underlines that the European Council has invited the VP/HR to reach out to key actors in the region on a political transition and on preparations for post-conflict reconciliation and reconstruction; notes that, following the European Council meeting, the VP/HR has visited Iran and Saudi Arabia as part of the outreach to key actors in the region on the future of Syria; stresses that the Council has invited the VP/HR to continue this work with key actors in the region in support of the efforts of UNSE Staffan de Mistura;

18. Believes that the EU and its Member States can play an important role in finding a political solution to the conflict in Syria; welcomes the fact that the EU and its Member States are to seek to explore possibilities for concerted action, inter alia through the UN General Assembly;

19. Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Vice-President of the Commission / High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, the Council, the Commission, the governments and parliaments of the EU Member States, the Secretary-General of the United Nations, the Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for Syria, the members of the International Syria Support Group and all the parties involved in the conflict in Syria.