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Switzerland ʻextremely concernedʼ about Syria

Fighting between the Syrian government forces and rebels intensified in the opposition-held Syrian town Qusair. Photo provided by Qusair Lens and verified by AP Keystone

The Swiss foreign ministry has said it is “extremely concerned” about the situation in Syria, particularly the intense fighting in the city of Qusair, and urged all parties to the conflict to end the violence.

This content was published on June 3, 2013 - 11:20
swissinfo.ch

Switzerland is also asking those involved in the fighting and the international community to do everything possible to find a political solution that meets the aspirations and needs of the Syrian citizenry, the ministry said in a statement on Monday.

“The violence must end,” the ministry added. “The civilian population must immediately be allowed to leave the area [Qusair], and relief agencies must be permitted access to the victims in order to provide necessary aid.”

Syrian jets renewed their bombardment of the rebel-held town over the weekend, reviving fears that the civil war could destabilise the entire region. Qusair is located close to the main road connecting Homs and Syria’s capital Damascus. It lies ten kilometres from the Lebanese border and is considered a key logistical hub.

Red Cross is alarmed

The Swiss-run International Committee of the Red Cross said on Saturday that it is alarmed by the severe consequences for the civilians trapped since fighting sharply intensified in the city.

According to various reports from within the town, many of the wounded are not receiving the medical care they need desperately, the Red Cross said in a statement on Saturday.

“Civilians and the wounded are at risk of paying an even heavier price as the fighting continues,” said Robert Mardini, head of the ICRC’s operations in the Near and Middle East, in a statement.

“We call upon all parties to abide by their obligations under international humanitarian law and to take constant care to spare at all times the lives of civilians and of those no longer taking part in hostilities.”

Syria has rebuffed an appeal by the United Nations and the Red Cross to let humanitarian aid reach the thousands of civilians trapped in the town. The Red Cross would only be allowed to enter once the fighting has ended, Syria’s foreign ministry has said.

Switzerland appealed to all parties to the conflict to respect international law and take measures to protect the civilian population and other people not involved in the fighting. Everybody who is responsible for serious violations of human rights will have to assume responsibility before the courts, the Swiss foreign ministry warned.

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