South Africa deplores the violence and the tremendous loss of life in Syria, which is spiraling out of control. I reiterate that our highest priority is to stop the killing. We feel that the only way to achieve this is through the Annan plan for a political transition.
The bomb in Damascus earlier this week, which resulted in the death of senior government officials including the Defence Minister, Daoud Rajha, coupled with the many horrific massacres that have taken place over the past few weeks, clearly shows that there is more than one side to the conflict. It is also obvious that all sides are heavily armed.
We have noted the International Committee of the Red Cross and Red Crescent’s classification of the escalating situation in Syria as meeting the conditions of an internal armed conflict. The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights also stated that: “there are indications that the situation in Syria – at least in certain areas – may amount to a non-international armed conflict thus entailing obligations on both sides under international law”.
This confirms that the situation has reached a threshold of a civil war in which all parties have responsibilities and obligations under international humanitarian law.