Today, the people of Aleppo in Syria are being subjected to what, by any fair definition, must be described as a war crime. Civilians are not being killed accidentally because of a conflict - they are being deliberately and repeatedly targeted. This death and destruction is no accident. It is the primary strategy of the Syrian Government and the Russian military. Women and children hiding in the basements of buildings in which there are no combatants are being repeatedly hit with specialist bunker-busting missiles. Hospitals are being hit with barrel bombs over a series of days until they are forced to close. Civilians, particularly children, have no access to basic medical care, food or even water. What we are witnessing is a systematic policy of trying to kill or drive out of the country every person who does not support the murderous Assad regime. This is a potential genocide and it is escalating by the day. We have already seen millions displaced by Assad's determination to maintain his murderous regime and retain the support of Russia, which has been critical to saving him. Areas supporting moderate and democratic forces have repeatedly been their focus. The reason that there is an international emergency concerning Syrian refugees is directly and unequivocally due to the actions of these governments.
The question for Ireland is whether we will stand up for the people of Aleppo and the rest of Syria in the face of these war crimes. Will we say to Russia in particular that the barbarism that it is directly facilitating is unacceptable? Unfortunately, the overwhelming bulk of the groups here that describe themselves as anti-war are silent on Aleppo. As they cannot attack the United States or the West for these actions, they prefer to say nothing. In the case of Sinn Féin, it has engaged in incredible contortions to avoid any direct criticism of Russia and its President. Has the Taoiseach or the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade summoned the Russian ambassador or discussed the summoning of same to convey our views and raised the matter at European Union level with a request for common action? What is the EU doing in response to this barbarous, murderous activity sponsored by the Syrian and Russian Governments? Is it going to stand by or will there be action in terms of our relationship with Russia?
The Dáil should be unequivocal, as part of our Parliament, in condemning the genocidal attack on Aleppo. We should arrange for a common agreed statement to do so. More important, has the Taoiseach considered the need to significantly increase humanitarian aid in Syria? I know there have been increases to date but this would help those who are in refugee camps filled with people fleeing the Syrian government and Russian bombing. This winter could see an escalating catastrophe unless the international community dramatically increases its aid and support.