Motion for a resolution - B8-0141/2018Motion for a resolution

MOTION FOR A RESOLUTION on the situation in Syria

12.3.2018 - (2018/2626(RSP))

to wind up the debate on the statement by the Vice-President of the Commission/High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy
pursuant to Rule 123(2) of the Rules of Procedure

Fabio Massimo Castaldo, Isabella Adinolfi on behalf of the EFDD Group

Procedure : 2018/2626(RSP)
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European Parliament resolution on the situation in Syria


The European Parliament,

–  having regard to the statement of 6 March 2018 by Vice-President of the Commission / High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy (VP/HR) Mogherini and Commissioner Stylianides on the situation in Eastern Ghouta and elsewhere in Syria,

–  having regard to the Declaration of 23 February 2018 by the High Representative on behalf of the EU on Syria: The massacre in Eastern Ghouta must stop now,

–  having regard to the latest report by the UN-mandated Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic,

–  having regard to the Foreign Affairs Council of 26 February 2018,

–  having regard to the Declaration of 21 December 2017 by the High Representative on behalf of the EU on Syria,

–  having regard to the Declaration of 24 November 2017 by the High Representative on behalf of the EU on the investigation of chemical weapons use in Syria,

–  having regard to the statement by VP/HR Mogherini during its plenary session of 6 February 2018 on the human rights situation in Turkey and the situation in Afrin, Syria,

–  having regard to the EU strategy on Syria,

–  having regard to its previous resolutions on Syria,

–  having regard to the Geneva Conventions of 1949 and the additional protocols thereto,

–  having regard to the relevant UN Security Council resolutions, including Resolutions 2401 (2018) and 2254 (2015),

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

A.  whereas after eight years of conflict the situation in Syria continues to deteriorate, despite the formal defeat of the Islamic State; whereas in recent months multiple situations have been particularly worrisome, especially in Eastern Ghouta, Afrin and Idlib;

B.  whereas Eastern Ghouta, a suburb of the Syrian capital Damascus, home to nearly 400 000 people and mostly controlled by rebel forces, has faced over recent weeks a siege and a ferocious offensive by President Bashar al-Assad’s government, which has left more than 800 people dead and thousands injured; whereas in these attacks the Assad government allegedly used chemical weapons, as a number of patients treated at a hospital supported by the Syrian American Medical Society Foundation (SAMS) were suffering from symptoms indicative of exposure to chemical compounds; whereas the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) immediately opened an investigation into the attacks;

C.  whereas on 25 February 2018 the UN Security Council unanimously adopted Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 2401 on the humanitarian situation in Syria, demanding an immediate end to the fighting and the establishment of a humanitarian truce lasting at least 30 days, in order to securely deliver humanitarian aid without obstacles and to carry out the urgent medical evacuation of civilians in medical emergencies; whereas Russian President Vladimir Putin has called for a daily five-hour pause in hostilities in besieged areas;

D.  whereas armed groups in Eastern Ghouta pledged to the UN Security Council that they would abide by UNSCR 2401 and accept the truce, while on the other side Assad’s government made no such commitment; whereas to date no progress has been made on the ground in implementing the ceasefire as Assad’s government continues its offensive, in blatant violation of UNSCR 2401;

E.  whereas on Monday 5 March 2018, for the first time since 14 February 2018, a humanitarian convoy chartered by the United Nations (in cooperation with the Committee of the Red Cross and the Syrian Arab Red Crescent) was authorised to enter Eastern Ghouta; whereas, despite the authorisation, some of the medical and health supplies to be delivered were removed by the Syrian authorities and continued shelling by government forces made it impossible to complete the delivery, as 15 of the 46 trucks in the convoy were not able to fully offload critical humanitarian supplies; whereas the UN and its partners were thus forced to urgently evacuate their humanitarian personnel;

F.  whereas Assad’s actions in Eastern Ghouta are just the latest example of a strategy already used in other areas of Syria, consisting in overwhelming opposition-held areas with attacks to make life for the civilian population unliveable by destroying hospitals, schools, mosques and public infrastructure, in order to make the rebels lose the will or the ability to fight and to encourage the civilians to cooperate with the government;

G.  whereas at the same time there has been a new escalation of violence in the Idlib governorate, with the Assad government and Russia intensifying bombing, and a confrontation between different parties on the ground, leading to a humanitarian disaster and to another upsurge of internal displacement with more than 250 000 civilians reportedly fleeing the fighting;

H.  whereas Turkey announced that it would set up camps to settle 170 000 Syrian refugees in nine locations near Syria’s Idlib and Afrin, and in the area Ankara controls further east in northern Syria;

I.  whereas on 20 January 2018 Turkey launched Operation Olive Branch, targeting the Kurds and the Syrian Democratic Forces led by the YPG in the district of Afrin; whereas according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights at least 149 civilians have died in bombardments and shelling carried out by the Turkish forces, and hundreds have been injured;

J.  whereas the Turkish operation in Syria has displaced tens of thousands of residents of the Kurdish-controlled enclave of Afrin and has led to the emergence of disturbing reports of civilian deaths, torture and mutilation in Afrin; whereas as of March 4 2018, 100 out of 306 Afrin villages had been seized and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s declarations indicate Turkey’s clear intention to continue its offensive and to enter central Afrin; whereas, reportedly, since the adoption of UNSCR 2401, the Turkish armed forces have intensified their attacks in Afrin;

K.  whereas the UN-led Geneva talks are in a deadlock and the Astana process de-escalation areas, as agreed in September 2017, have not been put in place; whereas a credible political deal reached through intra-Syrian talks under the auspices of the UN remains the only possibility for a peaceful future in Syria;

L.  whereas the UN Security Council failed to renew the UN-OPCW Join Investigative Mechanism in November 2017 after the veto of Russia, which in turn proposed its own resolution in January to launch a chemical weapons inquiry, which it has not put forward for a vote;

M.  whereas today 257 persons and 67 entities in Syria are targeted by European sanctions; whereas the measures are in place until 1 June 2018;

N.  whereas the second ministerial conference on Supporting the Future of Syria and the Region (Brussels 2 Conference) will take place on 24-25 April 2018 in Brussels; whereas during the 2017 Brussels Conference historic pledges worth EUR 5.6 billion were made; whereas two thirds of these pledges came from the EU and the Member States;

O.  whereas the EU and the Member States are the leading donors in the international response to the Syrian crisis, with more than EUR 10 billion mobilised collectively in humanitarian, development, economic and stabilisation assistance for Syrians inside Syria and in neighbouring countries since the beginning of the conflict;

1.  Is extremely worried by the further deterioration of the situation in Syria and especially the surge in violence in many parts of the country, as in the cases of Eastern Ghouta, Afrin and Idlib, which are just the latest episodes in an eight-year conflict that has already resulted in over 400 000 deaths, more than six million internally displaced persons and five million refugees;

2.  Welcomes the unanimous adoption of UNSCR 2401 as a vital step towards the delivery of much-needed humanitarian aid but laments that despite the calls for an immediate ceasefire, clashes are still ongoing in Eastern Ghouta, as well as in Afrin and other parts of Syria; firmly condemns the Assad government’s ongoing offensive in Eastern Ghouta, which is in full violation of UNSCR 2401, and Turkey’s illegal intervention in northern Syria;

3.  Urges all parties to fully implement UNSCR 2401 without delay and to ensure safe and unimpeded access for humanitarian convoys, especially in besieged areas, to deliver critical supplies, including medical and health supplies, to all those in need, in line with the principle of neutrality of humanitarian aid;

4.  Reminds all parties to the conflict of their obligation under international humanitarian law and human rights law to protect civilians and civilian infrastructure at all times and of the basic responsibility to ensure the necessary protection of all humanitarian organisations, personnel, facilities and other relief assets; strongly condemns any use of siege tactics, which starve Syrian civilians and prevent humanitarian access, as well as the deliberate targeting of hospitals and other civilian infrastructure; calls on Assad’s government to immediately cease its offensive in Eastern Ghouta, in compliance with UNSCR 2401, and to allow full access to humanitarian convoys without blocking, restricting, or delaying them as in the case of the UN convoy of 5 March 2018;

5.  Welcomes the OPCW investigation into the alleged used of chemical weapons in Eastern Ghouta; regrets the non-extension of the Joint Investigative Mechanism in November 2017 and calls on all the parties to the UN Security Council to reach an agreement to establish a new independent mechanism of investigation which could work in an impartial, independent and professional manner; takes note of the French initiative on an ‘International Partnership against Impunity for the use of Chemical Weapons’; strongly condemns any use of chemical weapons;

6.  Reaffirms that the only solution to the conflict is a political one, in the framework of the UN-led Geneva Process and in line with UNSCR 2254; calls on the UN Special Envoy for Syria, Staffan de Mistura, to redouble his efforts to relaunch the talks that are currently in a deadlock; considers that the Astana talks may facilitate progress in sustainable intra-Syrian talks in Geneva, but notes that the Astana de-escalation areas as agreed in September 2017 have never been put in place;

7.  Calls on the three guarantors of the Astana Process on Syria to take all the necessary steps to effectively follow up on the creation of the de-escalation zones as set out in the Astana Talks and to facilitate the implementation of the ceasefire as envisaged in UNSCR 2401; further calls on international and regional actors to act in goodwill and do everything in their power to facilitate a political solution to the conflict without taking initiatives that could damage this prospect;

8.  Calls on Turkey to respect UNSCR 2401 and immediately comply with the 30-day ceasefire provided for in the resolution, with a view to permanently halting its illegal offensive in Afrin and other Syrian territories; calls on the international community to put pressure on President Erdogan in this regard, as Operation Olive Branch has no valid legal basis, its true geo-strategic objective being not the fight against terrorism or the defence of Turkey’s border, but the prevention of the establishment of a de facto independent Kurdish state in northern Syria;

9.  Is shocked by the report of the UN Commission of Inquiry on Syria, which chronicles the sharp rise in violence between July 2017 and January 2018; deplores in the strongest terms the systematic violations perpetrated in Syria by the Assad government and other actors, and shares the report’s concern for the lack of accountability and total impunity of perpetrators of crimes and violations committed by all parties to the conflict, including the alleged use of chemical weapons; calls on the European Council and the Member States to make every effort and use every means at their disposal to ensure that there is no room for impunity and that those responsible for war crimes, human rights violations and violations of international humanitarian law are held accountable and sanctioned accordingly;

10.  Reminds Assad’s government and other parties that even within the framework of the fight against terrorism there is no justification for the collective punishment of the civilian population through sieges, starvation, indiscriminate bombardment and shelling and the denial of medical and humanitarian relief, and that such actions may amount to war crimes; calls on the international community to support, and fully supports, the launch of UN’s independent investigations into violations perpetrated in Eastern Ghouta, Afrin and Idlib;

11.  Welcomes the EU-hosted Brussels 2 Conference that will take place on 24-25 April as an important step to keep the Syrian conflict at the top of the international agenda; stresses that the aim of the conference is to express political support for the Geneva Process and the prospect of reconciliation in Syria and economic support for Syrians in need, as well as for those countries hosting Syrian refugees;

12.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission, the Vice-President of the Commission / High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, the governments and parliaments of the Member States, the United Nations and all the parties involved in the conflict, and to ensure translation of this text into Arabic.

Last updated: 13 March 2018
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