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Syria: Visits Abroad

Question for Foreign and Commonwealth Office

UIN HL2327, tabled on 13 October 2016

To ask Her Majesty’s Government why they advised Baroness Cox and Lord Hylton not to accept the invitation of multi-faith Syrian clerics to visit Damascus, Maaloula, Aleppo and Latakia in September this year; and whether they have studied the draft report produced by the pastoral group which made that visit.

Answered on

24 October 2016

We made clear that the Foreign and Commonwealth Office advises against all travel to Syria. The situation is extremely volatile and dangerous. We also make clear that we cannot provide any consular services to British nationals in Syria.

In addition, Asad's regime can use visits by international groups to fuel its obnoxious propaganda. The Asad regime is responsible for atrocities against the Syrian people. More than 400,000 have died in the last five years; 85-90 per cent of civilian deaths are the responsibility of the regime.

We continue to closely monitor the situation in Syria, including the circumstances for minorities. The independent UN Commission of Inquiry and other credible reporting from Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International have made clear that the Asad regime bears overwhelming responsibility for this crisis. His regime responded with brutal repression to peaceful protests by ordinary Syrians calling for more freedom. The Asad regime and extremist groups, including those allied to the regime, are the main perpetrators of suspected war crimes, and for violations of human rights.