Friday 22 June 2018

France and Germany ask Putin to stop Syria attacks in the hope for ceasefire

Member of the Syrian Civil Defense group carries a boy who was wounded during airstrikes and shelling by Syrian government forces, in Ghouta, a suburb of Damascus, Syria. . (Syrian Civil Defense White Helmets via AP)
Member of the Syrian Civil Defense group carries a boy who was wounded during airstrikes and shelling by Syrian government forces, in Ghouta, a suburb of Damascus, Syria. . (Syrian Civil Defense White Helmets via AP)
Independent.ie Newsdesk

Independent.ie Newsdesk

German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron hoped world powers would agree a Syria ceasefire on Friday after they asked Russian President Vladimir Putin to back a corresponding U.N. Security Council resolution.

The two European Union leaders appealed to Putin -- whose military intervention in Syria gave President Bashar al-Assad the upper hand in the seven-year-old conflict -- to stop bombardments of the rebel-held pocket of eastern Ghouta.

In this photo released on Wednesday Feb. 21, 2018, provided by the Syrian anti-government activist group Ghouta Media Center, which has been authenticated based on its contents and other AP reporting, shows Syrian paramedics treat a kids who was wounded during airstrikes and shelling by Syrian government forces, at a makeshift hospital, in Ghouta, suburb of Damascus, Syria. (Ghouta Media Center via AP)
In this photo released on Wednesday Feb. 21, 2018, provided by the Syrian anti-government activist group Ghouta Media Center, which has been authenticated based on its contents and other AP reporting, shows Syrian paramedics treat a kids who was wounded during airstrikes and shelling by Syrian government forces, at a makeshift hospital, in Ghouta, suburb of Damascus, Syria. (Ghouta Media Center via AP)
A man digs a shelter under the house of Bilal Issa in the besieged eastern Ghouta town of Hamouriyeh near Damascus, Syria, February 21, 2018. REUTERS/Bassam Khabieh/File Photo
Mohammed Abu Anas runs with an injured boy in the besieged eastern Ghouta town of Hamouriyeh near Damascus, Syria, February 21, 2018. REUTERS/Bassam Khabieh/File Photo
People carry a body on a stretcher as they walk on rubble of damaged buildings in the rebel-held besieged town of Hamouriyeh, eastern Ghouta, near Damascus, Syria, February 21, 2018. REUTERS/Bassam Khabieh
This photo released on Wednesday Feb. 21, 2018 provided by the Syrian anti-government activist group Ghouta Media Center, which has been authenticated based on its contents and other AP reporting, shows a Syrian paramedic, treats a kids who was wounded during airstrikes and shelling by Syrian government forces, at a makeshift hospital, in Ghouta, suburb of Damascus, Syria. (Ghouta Media Center via AP)
In this photo released on Wednesday Feb. 21, 2018, provided by the Syrian anti-government activist group Ghouta Media Center, which has been authenticated based on its contents and other AP reporting, shows Syrian citizens carry a victim during airstrikes and shelling by Syrian government forces, in Ghouta, suburb of Damascus, Syria. (Ghouta Media Center via AP)
A man carries an injured boy as he walks on rubble of damaged buildings in the rebel held besieged town of Hamouriyeh, eastern Ghouta, near Damascus, Syria, February 21, 2018. REUTERS/Bassam Khabieh TEMPLATE OUT
People carry the body of Majid Santiha on a stretcher in the besieged eastern Ghouta town of Hamouriyeh near Damascus, Syria, February 21, 2018. REUTERS/Bassam Khabieh/File Photo
A rescue worker holds an injured girl in the rebel held besieged town of Hamouriyeh, eastern Ghouta, near Damascus, Syria February 21, 2018. REUTERS/Bassam Khabieh
This photo released on Wednesday Feb. 21, 2018 provided by the Syrian anti-government activist group Ghouta Media Center, which has been authenticated based on its contents and other AP reporting, shows a Syrian young girl who was wounded during airstrikes and shelling by Syrian government forces, cries at a makeshift hospital, in Ghouta, suburb of Damascus, Syria. (Ghouta Media Center via AP)
Member of the Syrian Civil Defense group carries a boy who was wounded during airstrikes and shelling by Syrian government forces, in Ghouta, a suburb of Damascus, Syria. . (Syrian Civil Defense White Helmets via AP)
Two Syrian kids who were wounded during airstrikes and shelling by Syrian government forces, sit at a makeshift hospital, in Ghouta, suburb of Damascus, Syria. (Ghouta Media Center via AP)
An injured man lies on a bed in the rebel held besieged town of Hamouriyeh, eastern Ghouta, near Damascus, Syria, February 21, 2018. REUTERS/Bassam Khabieh

Warplanes from Assad's government forces and their allies pounded the densely populated enclave east of the capital Damascus for a sixth straight day on Friday.

"France and Germany call for an immediate cessation of hostilities and the implementation of a ceasefire to provide civilian support, humanitarian access and medical evacuation, as called for by the UN," the two governments said.

In this photo released on Wednesday Feb. 21, 2018, provided by the Syrian anti-government activist group Ghouta Media Center, which has been authenticated based on its contents and other AP reporting, shows Syrian paramedics treat a kids who was wounded during airstrikes and shelling by Syrian government forces, at a makeshift hospital, in Ghouta, suburb of Damascus, Syria. (Ghouta Media Center via AP)
In this photo released on Wednesday Feb. 21, 2018, provided by the Syrian anti-government activist group Ghouta Media Center, which has been authenticated based on its contents and other AP reporting, shows Syrian paramedics treat a kids who was wounded during airstrikes and shelling by Syrian government forces, at a makeshift hospital, in Ghouta, suburb of Damascus, Syria. (Ghouta Media Center via AP)

"France and Germany call on Russia to shoulder its responsibilities in this regard," they said in a joint statement as Macron and Merkel met other EU leaders for talks in Brussels.

Following the meeting, EU leaders' chairman, Donald Tusk told reporters: "The Assad regime is brutally attacking innocent men, women and children. Its backers, Russia and Iran, are allowing this to happen."

A man digs a shelter under the house of Bilal Issa in the besieged eastern Ghouta town of Hamouriyeh near Damascus, Syria, February 21, 2018. REUTERS/Bassam Khabieh/File Photo
A man digs a shelter under the house of Bilal Issa in the besieged eastern Ghouta town of Hamouriyeh near Damascus, Syria, February 21, 2018. REUTERS/Bassam Khabieh/File Photo

He urged them to stop the violence. The EU called for an immediate ceasefire, urgent humanitarian access to and protection of civilians, he said.

Diplomatic sources told Reuters Merkel and Macron - who both said they hoped the ceasefire would be agreed - were also due to call Putin together after the vote in New York, which had been delayed.

Moscow, which has the power to veto U.N. Security Council resolutions, has often in the past blocked texts that would be damaging to Assad. Russia said on Friday it was ready to support the draft resolution, but with caveats.

"There are no guarantees that (the rebels) will not continue shooting at Damascus residential areas," Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said in a briefing.

"That's why for the resolution to be efficient -- and we are ready to agree on the text which would make it so -- we propose a formula which would make the ceasefire real, based on the guarantees of all who are inside eastern Ghouta and outside eastern Ghouta," Lavrov said.

The EU as a whole has only played a marginal role in the international diplomacy around the conflict in Syria, where the multi-sided war has killed hundreads of thousands and driven millions from their homes.

The bloc is trying to leverage its role as the world's top aid donor to woo Assad back into the stalled U.N. peace talks, which have achieved little over the years.

The talks are now deadlocked as Damascus, Moscow and their other ally Tehran attempt a final push to re-establish Assad's rule.

Reuters

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