EU leaders push for ceasefire in Syria's Eastern Ghouta

2018-02-24 10:34
German Chancellor, Angela Merkel. (Michael Sohn, AP)

German Chancellor, Angela Merkel. (Michael Sohn, AP)

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Brussels - European leaders called on Friday for an immediate ceasefire in Syria to allow for humanitarian aid and evacuations after more than 400 civilians were killed in the rebel-held region of Eastern Ghouta.

French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel wrote to Russian President Vladimir Putin urging him to back a UN Security Council resolution for a ceasefire in Syria, France's presidency said.

The letter, sent while Macron and Merkel were at an EU summit in Brussels, asks Russia to support the draft resolution calling for a 30-day truce in Syria, mainly to allow medical and other aid to reach Eastern Ghouta and allow evacuations.

"At this time, we do not know what will be Russia's stance," the Elysee said in a statement.

EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini also called for an immediate ceasefire in Syria.

"The massacre in Eastern Ghouta must stop now," Mogherini said in a statement. "The European Union is running out of words to describe the horror being experienced by the people of Eastern Ghouta."

She said the EU urged all parties to the conflict "to take all necessary measures to ensure an immediate ceasefire... and urgent humanitarian access.

"The Syrian regime must immediately stop targeting its own people and fulfill its primary responsibility to protect them," Mogherini added.

European Council President Donald Tusk - who represents EU member states - echoed the call.

"The Assad regime is brutally attacking innocent men, women and children. Its backers Russia and Iran are allowing this to happen. We urge them to stop this violence," Tusk told a press conference ending the summit.

The UN Security Council is due to vote on the 30-day ceasefire resolution on Friday as diplomats in New York said they were "almost there" in their bid for a deal with Russia on a truce.

More than 400 people have been killed in the five-day assault by the government on Eastern Ghouta, near Damascus, where UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said 400 000 Syrians are living in "hell on earth."

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Read more on:    eu  |  vladimir putin  |  angela merkel  |  russia  |  syria

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