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Press Release

To End Syrians' Suffering, Limited Airstrikes Must Be Followed by Diplomatic Offensive

Following reports of airstrikes in Syria, David Miliband, CEO of the International Rescue Committee, said: 

“Last night’s limited military strikes raise two vital questions for long-suffering Syrian civilians, for the neighbouring states hosting millions of refugees, and for the international community that has stood by while Syria has become a destabilising force in global politics. The first is whether it will deter further chemical weapons use. The second is whether there is a broader game plan to use political, economic and diplomatic means to stop the slaughter of Syrian civilians.

The use of chemical weapons breaches vital norms of war and are a grave threat to the people we serve. But the targeting of civilians and aid workers with conventional weapons also breaches those laws. It is understandable when leaders say that they don’t want to get embroiled in Syria’s civil war. But the foundation of the post-World War II international order was not only the sovereignty of states, it was also the rights of individuals. And it is the second of those principles that is now under unprecedented duress.  

Last night’s strikes will become a historical footnote unless they are matched by a diplomatic offensive of sustained and serious character. That must cover the support of neighbouring states harbouring refugees - as well as the protection of civilians inside Syria, where the war is ongoing - and the promotion of a political settlement, starting with a ceasefire to halt the killing.

Such a strategy is not just about deterrence and disablement, the focus of last night’s strikes. It must be about peace-building and peace-making, with appropriate pressure on those engaged in the war to curb the Syrian destabilisation not just of civilian lives, but also of regional peace and security."


About the IRC

The International Rescue Committee responds to the world’s worst humanitarian crises, helping to restore health, safety, education, economic wellbeing, and power to people devastated by conflict and disaster. Founded in 1933 at the call of Albert Einstein, the IRC is at work in over 40 countries and 29 U.S. cities helping people to survive, reclaim control of their future and strengthen their communities. Learn more at www.rescue-uk.org and follow the IRC on Twitter & Facebook.