Expressing concern over the increasing hostilities in Syria, India on Friday said threats of launching “military operations” by external actors worsened the situation in the war-torn country.
This criticism comes in the backdrop of Turkey’s announcement that it will launch a military offensive in northern Syria, vowing to proceed step by step into other regions of the country.
Speaking at the UNSC meeting on Syria, Counsellor in India’s Permanent Mission to the UN Pratik Mathur said the external support to the armed groups in Syria complicated the situation and resulted in the growth of terrorism.
“Violence has been along sectarian lines, and terrorist groups, including Al-Qaeda, have entrenched themselves more than ever. The worst hit in this vicious cycle of violence, have undeniably been women and children. There are reports of several hundreds either being detained or disappeared,” he said at Arria Formula Meeting on “Syrian Women’s Voices on Detainees and the Disappeared in Syria.”
More than 14 million people across the country now need humanitarian assistance in one form or another. Syrian women, children and the elderly have been severely impacted in disproportionate ways.
The Indian diplomat said New Delhi has always condemned all acts of violence in Syria as well as violations of international humanitarian and human rights law, irrespective of who their perpetrators are.
“We have also condemned in the strongest terms all terrorist acts that have been and continue to be committed in Syria. India has been consistent in highlighting how acts of external players have also contributed to the inability to tackle terrorism in Syria,” he said.
“Hostilities, including airstrikes and shelling in north-west Syria, continue to affect civilians, including women and children, and we remain gravely concerned with an increase in airstrikes in North-West Syria at the end of April. Threats of launching ‘military operations’ by external actors in the territory of Syria, have further worsened the situation,” he added.
Against this background, the Indian diplomat said the issue of status of women, and detainees cannot be discussed in isolation, nor can it be seen from narrow perspective of acts committed by one side.
“We call on all parties present in Syria to address these challenges. We need to strengthen the hands of the Special Envoy and support his step-by-step approach,” he said.
“It is also a matter for Syrians themselves to deliberate and establish accountability for crimes committed. In this regard, we take note of the recent measures by Syria including general amnesty and legislation criminalizing torture,” he added.
During his address, Counsellor Mathur reaffirmed India’s commitment to advancing a Syrian-led and Syrian-owned UN-facilitated political process in line with UN Security Council Resolution 2254.
He said India firmly believes that long-term security and stability of the region can only be achieved by preserving the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Syria.
“India has continued to extend developmental assistance and human resource development support to Syria through grants and lines of credits for developmental projects, supply of medicine and food, artificial limb fitment camps, a Next Generation IT center and capacity building training programs,” the Indian diplomat added.
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