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Germany's Gabriel calls for Syrian peace demonstrations at US and Russian embassies

German Vice Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel has said his Social Democrats may initiate public protests against the war in Syria. His remarks come after an airstrike on an aid convoy in Syria that killed 21 civilians.

The German vice chancellor and economy minister made his comments at a meeting of the Social Democrat (SPD) parliamentary party this week, the German news magazine "Spiegel" reported on Friday.

"I understand demonstrations against CETA. But where is the outcry of the international community against the war in Syria? Where is the protest?" Gabriel was quoted as saying in reaction to Monday's attack on an aid convoy to the besieged northwestern Syrian city of Aleppo, in which 21 civilians are thought to have died.

Destroyed trucks from the convoy

Eighteen trucks were destroyed in Monday's attack

According to the magazine, Gabriel said he intended to ask the SPD secretary general, Katarina Barley, whether the party headquarters could help organize peace demonstrations in front of the US and Russian embassies.

"Perhaps we can initiate something," he was quoted as saying. His comments have been confirmed by participants at the meeting.

Germany has seen numerous recent protests against the trade deals CETA and TTIP, with thousands taking to the streets in major cities to voice their opposition.

International military intervention

The United States and Russia have become major players in Syria's civil conflict, both as active combatants and as mediators.

The US, which supports what it deems "moderate" rebels in their fight against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, has accused Russia and the Moscow-backed Syrian regime of carrying out Monday's aerial attack on the convoy. Russia, in its turn, has indirectly blamed the US.

A recent ceasefire brokered by the two powers has failed, with intense fighting resuming almost straightaway, notably around rebel-held Aleppo, which has seen some of the worst violence in the country's five-year-long civil conflict.

Rexcuers working in Aleppo

Aleppo has been under siege for months

The director of a hospital in Aleppo told Reuters news agency that 91 people had been killed in a bombardment of rebel-held eastern districts of the city on Friday.

A Syrian military source said on Thursday that government forces were starting a new offensive in the region, adding on Friday that it might go on "for some time." The source said the offensive could include a ground operation.

Watch video 01:38

Syrian regime starts new offensive

tj/jil (dpa, Reuters)

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