Syria: France says ‘days are numbered’ for Bashar al-Assad’s regime

“Its days are numbered, that is obvious. It is totally isolated today,” Juppe told France Info radio, while acknowledging that efforts to try to stem the bloodshed in Syria were moving slowly.

“Things are going slowly unfortunately … but they are advancing since the Arab League, which carries considerable political weight, has just decided on some sanctions which will isolate the Syrian regime a bit more.”

He also voiced hope that the idea of humanitarian corridors had not been ruled out for Syria, where well over 3,500 people have been killed since protests erupted in March.
Last week, Juppe said France would ask its EU partners to consider setting up protected escape routes for Syrian civilians fleeing the regime of Bashar al-Assad but later said such a move would have to either be agreed by Damascus or come under an international mandate.

“We have done this in other situations and it is the only way in the short term to ease the plight of the population,” he said on Monday.

The United Nations said at the weekend that international help was needed to feed 1.5 million people in crisis-torn Syria, but that humanitarian corridors were not yet justified.
Meanwhile, Russia will send a flotilla of warships led by its only aircraft carrier to its naval base in Syria for a port call next year amid tensions with the West over the Syrian crisis, a report said on Monday.

French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe Photo: AFP

The ships, headed by the Admiral Kuznetsov aircraft carrier, will dock at the little-utilised Russian base in the Syrian port of Tartus in spring 2012, the Izvestia daily said, quoting the Russian navy.

The Tartus base, a strategic asset for Moscow dating back to Soviet times, is rarely used by Russian vessels and currently no Russian ship is based there although civilian and military personnel are present.

A naval spokesman confirmed the plan to send the ships but insisted it had nothing to do with the deadly violence in Syria between forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad and the opposition.

“The call of the Russian ships in Tartus should not be seen as a gesture towards what is going on in Syria,” the spokesman told the paper, adding the Admiral Kuznetsov would also visit Beirut, Genoa and Cyprus.

“This was planned already in 2010 when there were no such events there. There has been active preparation and there is no need to cancel this,” added the spokesman.

Russia and the West have become deeply split over the situation in Syria, with Moscow insisting that sanctions and pressure against the Assad regime is not the way to solve the crisis.

Izvestia said the Admiral Kuznetsov – Russia’s only operational aircraft carrier – would head down from the Russian Far North in December, keeping west of Europe and heading into the Mediterranean through the Strait of Gibraltar. It would also carry around a dozen aircraft.

It said the Admiral Kuznetsov would not be able to dock in Tartus itself due to the size of the vessel but anchor outside and be supplied by the smaller ships accompanying it. The ship has visited Tartus before in 1995 and 2007.

 

Source: The Telegraph

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