Escalation of hostilities in north-western Syria – FDFA statement

Press release, 08.05.2019

The FDFA is deeply concerned by the escalation of hostilities in the Syrian province of Idlib and calls on the parties to the conflict to return to the negotiating table. Furthermore, it calls on the states guaranteeing the 'de-escalation zone' and the signatory states of the Sochi Agreement to do everything in their power to comply with international law, especially humanitarian law, and to work towards an end to hostilities.

The FDFA is concerned by the military escalation in north-western Syria. The offensive launched a few days ago has had dramatic consequences for the region's already suffering civilian population. According to the UN, hundreds of civilians have already been killed in aerial attacks and more than 150,000 people have been forced to flee. In addition, many civilians are trapped in the combat zone and cannot escape the fighting. Several hospitals and schools have been bombed and destroyed. There are an estimated 3–3.5 million people in north-western Syria, including about 1.7 million internally displaced persons. Some 2.7 million people already depend on humanitarian aid for their survival.

The FDFA appeals to all parties and states involved in the conflict, in particular the signatory states to the Sochi Agreement of 17 September 2018, to work through negotiation towards an immediate cessation of hostilities. The Sochi Agreement between Turkey and Russia provided for a buffer zone between the Syrian army and the armed groups. The FDFA also calls for compliance with international law, in particular the Charter of the United Nations, international humanitarian law and human rights. Immediate, unhindered, long-term humanitarian assistance must be provided to the people in need, including in hard-to-access areas.

Resumption of the UN peace process in Geneva is essential to put an end to the suffering of the Syrian population. Only in this way can a lasting, broad-based peace guaranteeing the rights of all Syrians be achieved.

Address for enquiries:

FDFA Information
Federal Palace West Wing
CH-3003 Bern, Switzerland
Tel.: +41 58 462 31 53
Twitter: @SwissMFA


Federal Department of Foreign Affairs