Syrian President Bashar Assad is warning Turkey and Saudi Arabia that any ground incursion into Syria will have “global repercussions” and says sending in troops will not be a “picnic.”
Commenting on the agreement reached last week among the U.S., Russia and other world powers for a temporary cessation of hostilities in Syria, Assad said, “Cease-fires occur between armies and states, but never between a state and terrorists.”
“They say that they want a cease-fire within a week. All right, who will talk to a terrorist organization if it refuses to cease fire? Who will punish it?’ he asked.
Assad spoke in Damascus late Monday during a meeting with members of the Bar Association. The comments were his first since the agreement on Friday to bring about a temporary pause in fighting within a week.
France’s new foreign minister has issued a statement in which he has “firmly” condemned the bombing of a hospital in northern Syria run by Doctors Without Borders.
Jean-Marc Ayrault said Monday that attacks like these, in which six patients and a hospital employee were killed, are “unacceptable and must stop immediately.”
He said that they “could constitute war crimes.” Ayrault, who was given the post of foreign minister last week following the departure of Laurent Fabius, said that countries should work to guarantee the delivery of humanitarian assistance in all troubled areas of Syria.
Turkey on Monday accused Russia of an “obvious war crime” after missile attacks in northern Syria killed scores of people, and warned Kurdish militia fighters there they would face the “harshest reaction” if they tried to capture a town near the Turkish border.
An offensive supported by Russian bombing and Iranian-backed Shi’ite militias has brought the Syrian army to within 25 km (15 miles) of Turkey’s frontier. The Kurdish YPG militia – which Turkey regards as a hostile insurgent force – has exploited the situation, seizing ground from Syrian rebels to extend its presence along the border.
Almost 50 civilians were killed when missiles hit at least five medical facilities and two schools in rebel-held areas of Syria on Monday, according to the United Nations, which called the attacks a blatant violation of international law.
At least 14 were killed in the northern town of Azaz, the last rebel stronghold before the border with Turkey, when missiles hit a children’s hospital and a school sheltering refugees, a medic and two residents said. Missiles also hit a hospital in the town of Marat Numan in the province of Idlib, south of Aleppo.