Remarks at a UN Security Council Emergency Meeting on the Situation in Idlib, Syria

Ambassador Kelly Craft
Permanent Representative
U.S. Mission to the United Nations
New York, New York
February 28, 2020


The United States is not here today to listen and discuss. We are here to speak directly and without qualification. The United States condemns in the strongest possible terms yesterday’s attacks on Turkish troops. These attacks were wholly unjustified, senseless, and barbaric. Our deepest sympathies are with the loved ones of the 33 Turkish soldiers who were killed. In the days ahead, the United States’ commitment to our NATO ally, Turkey, will not waver. Turkey has our full support to respond in self-defense to unjustified attacks on Turkish observation posts that resulted in the deaths of their own forces.

We have now seen Russia and the Assad regime violate Astana ceasefire agreements on three separate occasions: first in Eastern Ghouta, then in Dara’a, and finally in Idlib. This attack should serve as the final nail in the Astana Format’s coffin. It is a format broken beyond all repair and we cannot return to it. We cannot entrust it with the vital work of establishing a new ceasefire. With this in mind, the United States calls for an immediate, durable, and verifiable ceasefire in northwest Syria. As Secretary Pompeo has stated, a permanent ceasefire is the answer to this conflict. We call for the Russian Federation to immediately ground its warplanes. And we call for all Syrian forces and their Russian backers to withdraw to the ceasefire lines first established in 2018. As President Trump has made clear, the Assad regime, Russia, and Iran must halt their offensive before more innocent civilians are killed and displaced. To that end, we also urge the Secretary General to do everything in his power to broker a ceasefire, as the UN must play a central, active role if we are to avoid even greater escalation.

Today’s meeting is, of course, about the reckless and serious risk of the Assad regime and Russia’s offensive places on the security of a NATO ally, but it is not only about that. Just as we sat in this chamber yesterday and heard the stories of the people of Idlib, whose daily existence has been reduced to the simple task of survival. Amid the Russian airstrikes, the chill of the Syrian winter, and the pangs of unending hunger, the Syrian people are desperate for aid, they are begging for relief, and they are praying for deliverance. That’s just enough. I said yesterday that each country represented here has a choice to make. It is a choice we are confronted with again today. So I’m going to ask you again: are we going to sit back and watch? Are we going to remain silent? Or will we deliver? How many more babies have to freeze to death before we raise our voices and say, “Enough!”?

And so, this is the message of the Trump administration today: to the relentless violence against innocent women, children, and men, to the obstruction of life-saving humanitarian assistance, and to the embrace of unforgivable cruelty toward the Syrian people, we say: enough. Simply enough.

Thank you.