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France urges US coalition support for Syrian rebels in Aleppo

AFP/Emmanuel Dunand

French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius called Tuesday for the US-led coalition against the Islamic State (IS) group to come to the aid of rebels fighting the Syrian regime in the country's second city of Aleppo.

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In an article published by The Washington Post, France's Le Figaro and pan-Arab daily Al Hayat, Fabius said that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's regime had fuelled the rise of the jihadist Islamic State group.

"Assad largely created this monster by deliberately setting free the jihadists who fuelled this terrorist movement," he wrote. "This was part of his underhanded effort to appear, in the eyes of the world, as the sole bulwark against terrorism in Syria."

"After Kobane, we must save Aleppo," Fabius said, referring to the Syrian border town where US air strikes are helping Kurdish forces ward off an Islamic State militant offensive.

France is carrying out air strikes against IS militants in Iraq but has so far kept out of the air campaign in neighbouring Syria, where it has hoped to support moderate rebels without resorting to military action that could help the Assad regime.

"The city is almost entirely encircled," Fabius wrote of the rebels in Aleppo.

"The regime is seeking to destroy the resistance through cold and hunger," he said.

"Some 300,000 Aleppans are holding on, threatened with the same death and destruction that the regime has inflicted on Homs and the suburbs of Damascus."

Rebels seized most of the east of Aleppo in July 2012, confining government forces to the west, but they have come under renewed assault in recent months.

"Assad and Daesh are two sides of the same barbaric coin," Fabius said. Daesh is the Arabic term for the Islamic State group and the moniker that the French government uses. ("[W]e do not use Islamic State, because the group is neither truly Islamic nor a state," Fabius writes.)

Fabius said France would not resign itself to the breakup of Syria and would work towards supporting moderate rebels in Aleppo and protecting its civilian population, without detailing how.

"Abandoning Aleppo would mean condemning Syria to years of violence. It would mean the death of any political future," he wrote.

The article echoed the words of French President François Hollande on Friday, who described Aleppo as "key" to the conflict.

His comments also come after sustained criticism of the coalition campaign in Syria from NATO ally Turkey, which has refused to take part in the action until Washington draws up a broad strategy to deal with both the IS group and the Assad regime.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP)

 

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