France accuses Syrian government of violating ceasefire

Paris says air strikes in Damascus were intended to terrorise and undermine peace efforts

 A Syrian boy walks past the collapsed minaret of a mosque in the rebel-held city of Douma, outside Damascus, on Thursday.  The mosque was targeted one day earlier by forces loyal to Syrian president Bashar Assad. Photograph: EPA/Mohammed Badra

A Syrian boy walks past the collapsed minaret of a mosque in the rebel-held city of Douma, outside Damascus, on Thursday. The mosque was targeted one day earlier by forces loyal to Syrian president Bashar Assad. Photograph: EPA/Mohammed Badra

 

country’s ceasefire, saying air strikes this week were intended to terrorise people and sap the international community’s efforts to find a political solution to the conflict.

Britain also produced a lengthy update of the state of the war, including numerous accounts of breaches of the partial ceasefire that came into force on February 27th.

A joint US-Russian monitoring operation based in Geneva is supposed to oversee ceasefire breaches, but there is no agreed mechanism for imposing sanctions on those responsible. The issue was discussed on Friday in Geneva, where peace talks are being held.

Damascus air strikes

Romain Nadal

“France condemns the air strikes carried out by the regime,” Mr Nadal told reporters during a weekly briefing. “This attack, which deliberately targeted civilians, including children, shows that the regime is continuing its abuses and violating the truce.”

Women and children

Deir al-Asafir

The agreed ceasefire does not apply to attacks on areas held by Islamic State or the al-Qaeda-linked Jabhat al-Nusra.

Gareth Bayley, Britain’s Syria envoy, described the reports as deeply distressing and said many civilians had also been killed in East Goutha and Aleppo. Britain said 14 raids on Deir al-Asafir had been reported, including strikes on a school and mosque. A civil defence unit that attended the scene counted 25 bodies, while the local council put the death toll at 32.

The Syrian government claims that Jabhat al-Nusra and Islamic State – also known as Isis – operate in the area where the air strikes took place. Guardian service