French President Macron says Syria strikes ‘solve nothing’

DAMASCUS: Syrian state media reported on Tuesday that rebels from the Jaish faction would quit another town east of Damascus, just days after evacuating their main bastion outside the capital.
State news agency SANA said a new deal had been inked for the rebels to exit the town of Dumayr, around 50 km east of Damascus.
Jaish had maintained control over the town since 2016 under a “reconciliation” agreement with Syrian forces, whereby they would not fire at each other.
But the new deal, SANA reported, “provides for the departure of around 1,000 terrorists from Jaish to Jarabulus,” a rebel-controlled northern town.
Rebels had already begun handing over heavy weapons as part of the agreement, it said. Jaish has not commented on the deal.
It comes three days after Jaish evacuated the last opposition-held town in the onetime rebel bastion of Eastern Ghouta.
Their departure paved the way for the Syrian army to declare its full control over Ghouta, after a ferocious two-month military assault on the enclave. The offensive ended with a trio of evacuation deals that saw tens of thousands of rebels and civilians bussed up to northern Syria.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based war monitor, said on Tuesday that government forces were keen to clear out the armed opposition from any territory near Damascus.
“Regime forces, after taking all of Eastern Ghouta, want to finish off the rest of the rebel fighters around the capital so they can secure it,” said Observatory head Rami Abdel Rahman. “This is why they’re replacing the reconciliation deals with evacuation agreements,” he said.
Similar rebel departures were being negotiated for other nearby towns and for areas south of Damascus including Yalda, Beit Saham, and Babila, the Observatory said.
Meanwhile, government forces were preparing an assault on neighbourhoods in southern Damascus held by the IS group.
The Observatory said that Syrian forces had fired dozens of shells and rockets onto the areas overnight and that IS had retaliated with shelling on Damascus that left one child dead.
Meanwhile, French President Emmanuel Macron admitted that air strikes in Syria “solve nothing” but said France, Britain and the United States had been forced to step up and defend the “honour” of the international community.
Missile strikes by the US, Britain and France last week were in response to an alleged chlorine and sarin gas attack in Douma on April 7 in which 40 people were said to have been killed.
In an impassioned defence to the European Parliament, Macron said the Western allies acted to defend global rules and accused Syrian leader Bashar al Assad of being “at war with his people.”
“Let’s look our principles in the face and ask where we want to go. These strikes will resolve nothing but they will end a system to which we are becoming used to, which is that, somehow, the right side has become the weak side,” Macron said.
“Those that are shocked by images of women, of children who have been attacked by chlorine, we need to stand up to defend our rights. What are we going to say, our rights and principles just for us? No, that simply isn’t acceptable,” Macron said.
With the rest of the EU and the west having held back from military action, Macron added: “Three countries have intervened, and let me be quite frank, quite honest — this is for the honour of the international community.”
He said that the strikes were conducted “within a legitimate, multilateral framework, and in a very targeted way without any human victim, not a single human victim, to destroy three sites where chemical weapons were being produced or processed.” — Agencies