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Boris Johnson blames Assad regime for 'disregard for human life' in Aleppo

Joe Watts
Political Editor
Saturday 10 December 2016 18:48 GMT
Britain's Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson speaks at the IISS Regional Security Summit "The Manama Dialogue" in Manama, Bahrain December 9, 2016
Britain's Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson speaks at the IISS Regional Security Summit "The Manama Dialogue" in Manama, Bahrain December 9, 2016 (Hamad I Mohammed/Reuters)

Boris Johnson has accused the Syrian regime of Bashar Assad of presiding over a "flagrant disregard for human life" in Aleppo after meeting other foreign ministers to discuss the ongoing crisis there.

The Foreign Secretary emerged from the meeting in Paris to demand access for humanitarian aid to the Syrian city being strangled by a Russian-backed regime offensive.

It comes as Mr Johnson heads to Saudi Arabia for a meeting with the country’s leaders following the row over his comments that the country is involved in “proxy wars”.

After the Paris meeting with US Secretary of State John Kerry and others, Mr Johnson said: “The situation in Aleppo remains dire with desperate images of destruction and a flagrant disregard for human life being splashed across the media on a daily basis.

“We agreed our first priority must be the protection of civilians and ensuring access for humanitarian aid. It's essential that the regime and its backers provide the United Nations that access with immediate effect.”

Mr Johnson accepted that rebels were being beaten back in Aleppo but went on to outline that there can be no “military solution in Syria”.

He added: “We must keep pushing for a return to a political process with the credibility necessary for all parties to commit to an end to all the fighting.”

Mr Johnson left the meeting to immediately head for the Gulf where he is due to meet his Saudi Arabian counterpart, where he will explain comments he made at a conference in Italy last week.

In the unguarded words, recorded and later published by the Guardian, he accused all politicians in the region of “twisting and abusing religion…in order to further their own political objectives.”

He added: “And that’s why you have these proxy wars being fought the whole time in that area… there is not strong enough leadership in the countries themselves.”

Boris Johnson caught on video accusing ally Saudi Arabia of ‘playing proxy wars’

Mr Johnson then lumped the Saudis in with Iran suggesting the two nations are both “puppeteering and playing proxy wars”.

Afterwards, Theresa May’s official spokesperson said the Foreign Secretary’s comments were his own view and did not reflect Government policy, and indicated Mr Johnson would have a chance to recant when he visits Saudi.

The Foreign Secretary has refused to apologise however, and has even won the backing of Tories for giving what they see as an accurate appraisal of the situation in the Middle East.

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