France warns Russia that ‘nothing can justify’ assault on Syria’s Aleppo

Ayrault and Lavrov

Ayrault and Lavrov

France’s foreign minister told Russia Friday there was no justification for the fierce assault on Syria’s Aleppo, as Moscow said it was ready to “work on” a French-drafted UN resolution seeking to allow aid into the besieged city.

“What is happening in Aleppo is without precedent – nothing can justify such a deluge of fire and of death,” Jean-Marc Ayrault said after meeting Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov in Moscow.

“I met Sergei Lavrov to tell him face to face that no one can tolerate this situation.”

Tensions between Russia and the West have spiked after the United States suspended talks over a ceasefire on Monday in protest at Moscow stepping up its air campaign in support of a ferocious offensive against rebel-held eastern Aleppo.

Ayrault is heading to Washington on Friday as he tries to garner support for a UN resolution on a truce in Aleppo and allow humanitarian aid in to the battered city.

Despite Russia earlier signalling its unwillingness to support the proposal, Lavrov said that Moscow is “ready to work on this text” provided it does not contradict the US-Russia ceasefire agreement or other UN resolutions.

UN’s Syria envoy on Thursday warned eastern Aleppo could be “totally destroyed” by year’s end, and called on the government to halt strikes if jihadist fighters left the city, even offering to escort them out himself.

Lavrov insisted that the international community should pay attention to the “residents in all of Aleppo and not just in the eastern part”.

He also said that Russia has sent air defence systems to Syria to provide “reliable security” for Russian forces in the country.