France skeptical about UN 'freeze' for Syria

A general view taken on March 3, 2015 shows the citadel (background) in the northern Syrian city of Aleppo, where dozens were killed on March 4 when rebels set off a powerful tunnel explosion targeting an intelligence headquarters (AFP Photo/Zein al-Rifai)

United Nations (United States) (AFP) - France cast doubt Tuesday on whether a UN plan to freeze fighting in the Syrian city of Aleppo will materialize, and blamed the Damascus regime for the setback.

French Ambassador Francois Delattre, who chairs the United Nations Security Council this month, said UN peace envoy Staffan de Mistura still has the full support of the 15-member council despite his unsuccessful efforts.

"France remains skeptical about the regime's willingness" to support the UN plan for Aleppo, the envoy told a news conference.

De Mistura in October unveiled the proposal to suspend fighting in Aleppo to allow humanitarian aid deliveries and make a first step toward a broader political deal.

Syrian rebel forces in Aleppo have rejected the plan and have called instead for a comprehensive proposal to end the nearly four-year war that has killed 210,000 people.

But Delattre said the fault for the failure of the Aleppo plan lies with President Bashar al-Assad, who he said had laid down unacceptable conditions.

"Bashar al-Assad is proposing truces while stepping up bomb attacks," said the ambassador.

Once Syria's commercial hub, Aleppo has been devastated by fighting that began in mid-2012, and the city is now split between loyalist forces and rebels.

De Mistura is due to travel to Paris on Wednesday for talks on his mission before heading to London on Thursday.

He is not scheduled to report to the council this month, but envoys may decide to ask for an update.