In response to the increasing violence in West Aleppo over the past 72 hours, High Representative and Vice-President Federica Mogherini and Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management Christos Stylianides issued a joint statement calling for all sides to refrain from indiscriminate violence against civilians and civilian infrastructure. Both EU leaders reiterated that shelling civilian targets is unacceptable and, if proven deliberate, may constitute a war crime.
Before the weekend, rebels’ attack to break the siege of Aleppo slowed down amid resistance from regime forces. The United Nations said it was “appalled” by the opposition forces’ fire on civilians. Rebels launched a major attack, backed by car bombs and rocket fire, to break through government lines and reach the 250,000 people besieged in the eastern part of the city.
“Any escalation of the conflict puts the lives of hundreds of thousands of Syrians in further danger and is hindering the efforts of the international community to provide humanitarian aid, as well as to support a political solution to the conflict,” the statement says. Brussels says that stopping the violence and allowing humanitarian workers access to help the affected civilians is the priority in Aleppo and in the rest of Syria. The EU is working with the United Nations to let humanitarian aid inside Aleppo and to evacuate the sick and wounded.
The EU is a major donor and a leader in the international response to the crisis. So far, EU28 have provided €5 billion for relief and recovery assistance to Syrians in the country and to refugees and their host communities in neighboring Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq, Turkey and Egypt. Moreover, the EU has promised €3 billion at the ‘Supporting Syria’ conference held in London in February 2016. Mrs Mogherini and Mr Stylianides also reminded that the civil war in Syria has no military solution and every escalation of the conflict only increases the suffering of the Syrian people.