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Germany, France pressure Russia on Syria

February 25, 2018

Chancellor Angela Merkel and France's Emmanuel Macron have spoken with Moscow following reports that Russian-backed bombings in Syria have continued, despite a ceasefire deal. Russia has denied involvement.

Fire breaks out at a building after Assad regime forces carried out airstrikes over the de-escalation zone in Arbin town of Eastern Ghouta in Damascus, Syria
Image: picture-alliance/AA/Q. Noor

The leaders of France and Germany urged Russian President Vladimir Putin to exert "maximum pressure" on Syria amid reports of continued shelling in Damascus, a day after a unanimous call from the UN Security Council for an immediate ceasefire.

"It is crucial that the [UN] resolution be implemented quickly and comprehensively," said Merkel's office about the call on Sunday.

"They call on Russia in this context to exercise maximum pressure on the Syrian regime to achieve an immediate suspension of air raids and fighting ... particularly to allow humanitarian aid into and evacuations out of the war zone."

Macron added that France would be "extremely vigilant so that the resolution adopted at the UN would not go unheeded and that concrete and rapid progress on the level of needs is made on the ground to alleviate the suffering of civilians."

The Kremlin issued a statement saying the three governments had agreed to speed up their "information exchange" about Syria.

Bomb raids continue despite ceasefire

As a permanent member of the UN Security Council, Moscow on Friday voted in favor of a 30-day ceasefire to allow desperately needed food and medical aid into heavily shelled areas like eastern Ghouta, outside Damascus.

According to the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR), Syrian government warplanes backed by Russia continued to bomb eastern Ghouta after the UN vote. The rebel-held Damascus suburb has been the site of increasing devastation in recent weeks, with 520 civilians killed in the past week alone due to the non-stop shelling.

SOHR has said that 41 civilians were killed in airstrikes on Saturday, including eight children, and a further seven died on Sunday.

Russia has denied taking part in the weekend's bombing raids.

es/cmk (AFP, Reuters)

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