We welcome the extension of ceasefire around the city of Aleppo and urge the parties in Geneva to make every effort to extend this cessation of hostility and adopt robust measures to ensure that the ceasefire is respected.
The indiscriminate bombing of civilians, including women and children, hospitals and medical facilities in Aleppo by the Assad regime and its backers that prompted the international diplomatic push for a temporary ceasefire is a cowardly act and tantamount to a war crime.
A verifiable and permanent end to the Assad regime's bombing of innocent civilians in beleaguered cities must precede the international push to secure a political transition. Assad and his backers, the Iranian regime and Hezbollah, should and must not be allowed to use the talks to change the position on the ground by targeting defenceless civilians and the Syrian opposition.
The ongoing diplomatic process should no longer be blind to the continuing violence, since failure to do so will only exacerbate the refugee crisis in Europe and enhance the expansion and recruitment of Daesh in the region.
In this regard, the international community must strongly condemn the destructive role played by the Iranian regime in Syria, which has stepped up its military presence in the country to compensate for the heavy losses of its Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), which is fighting alongside Assad's forces. Particularly alarming are the efforts by Tehran and its proxy Hezbollah to mobilise for a ground assault to retake ruined city of Aleppo, which is the centre of anti-Assad revolution and home to several hundred thousand civilians.
Tehran is now so desperate to save Assad regime that its Supreme Leader, Ali Khamenei, recently appointed Abolfalz Tabatabai-Ashkezari as his new personal representative in Syria. Moreover, the IRGC's “civilian arm” Basij has launched a propaganda campaign in Iran in recent months, with state media is broadcasting a propaganda video aimed at recruiting child soldiers and encouraging young children to take part in the war in Syria to defend Assad's regime.
These developments clearly show that the Iranian leaders have no interest in a peaceful solution to the Syrian crisis, in which 400,000 people have been killed and millions have been displaced, with no end in sight. They also reveal once again that Tehran cannot be part of any solution, but is rather an integral part of fomenting the crisis.
We urge the international community to exert pressure on the Iranian regime to end its financial, logistic and military support for the Assad regime or face consequences for the escalation of the violence, by imposing punitive measures on responsible Iranian officials and entities.
Rt Hon. David Jones MP, former Secretary of State for Wales
The British Parliamentary Committee for Iran Freedom
8 May 2016