US, Western leaders calling for immediate Aleppo ceasefire

2016-12-07 21:59
Syrian civil defence volunteers, known as the White Helmets, rescue a boy from the rubble. (Ameer Alhalbi, AFP)

Syrian civil defence volunteers, known as the White Helmets, rescue a boy from the rubble. (Ameer Alhalbi, AFP)

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Washington - The United States and five other Western powers on Wednesday called for an immediate ceasefire in the Syrian city of Aleppo and accused Russia of blocking efforts to halt the bloodshed.

In a joint statement, the leaders of Britain, Germany, Italy, France, Canada and the US demanded that Syria's government address the humanitarian crisis by allowing United Nations aid in to eastern Aleppo. The said the UN should investigate reports of war crimes committed in Syria.

"We condemn the actions of the Syrian regime and its foreign backers, especially Russia, for their obstruction of humanitarian aid," the leaders said, adding that hospitals and schools appeared to have been targeted "in an attempt to wear people down".

The display of diplomatic unity appeared intended to build support for a five-day ceasefire for eastern Aleppo that several Syrian rebel groups proposed on Wednesday in hopes of allowing civilians to flee, including the sick and wounded.

The White House didn't immediately say whether the leaders were endorsing that specific ceasefire proposal. But the calls for a pause in fighting have grown more urgent as Syrian government troops and their allies push farther and farther into Aleppo, forcing rebels to retreat and civilians to leave their homes.

Syria's government and Russia rejected a previous ceasefire for Aleppo while continuing to try to oust rebels from the city. The top US and Russian diplomats planned to discuss the crisis further during talks on Wednesday in Germany.

The Western leaders reserved some of their harshest condemnation for Russia, the Syrian government's strongest ally. They charged that Moscow was blocking action at the UN Security Council intended to stem the violence.

The Syrian government's "refusal to engage in a serious political process also highlights the unwillingness of both Russia and Iran to work for a political solution despite their assurances to the contrary", the leaders said.

Read more on:    us  |  russia  |  syria  |  syria conflict

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