GENEVA - Senior U.N. Advisor of the Special Envoy for Syria, Jan Egeland, accused the international community of cruelly disregarding the suffering of the Syrian people and failing to protect them in the name of waging a war against terror.
Egeland has led the U.N.'s humanitarian effort in war-torn Syria for many years. Before stepping down from his post as senior advisor, he delivered a particularly blunt assessment of the international community's role in abetting the worst instincts of all the warring parties — to the detriment of the civilian population.
"We allowed all hell to be let loose in the most populated civilian places of a heavily populated country ... for more years than in any other of the contemporary 40 armed conflicts," he said.
Egeland said this policy has unleashed more than seven years of fierce fighting, killing hundreds of thousands of people and displacing millions within the country and as refugees.
"One of the reasons that it got as bad as it got was that everybody said that they were there on a war on terror. Everybody, as far as I can see. This notion that everyone is fighting terror fuels the fierceness and fuels the devastation that engulfs the civilians."
While most of the country has been forcibly pacified, Egeland warned the humanitarian situation throughout Syria remains critical. He said he is particularly worried by a recent escalation of violence in the northern cities of Aleppo and Idlib.
He said between 65 and 75 people have been hospitalized due to what appears to be a chemical weapons attack in Aleppo over the weekend. He said this would constitute a war crime if a forthcoming investigation into this event finds chemical agents were used.
He noted that over recent days, there has been a heavy exchange of mortars, grenades and shelling among armed groups in Idlib, potentially putting at risk the lives of 3 million civilians who have nowhere to go.