France, Germany to hold talks with Russia over Syria ceasefire

ANI | Updated: Feb 25, 2018 06:44 IST

Paris [France], Feb 25 (ANI): French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel will hold talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Sunday over the Syria ceasefire resolution, the France presidency said in a statement.

The talks come hours after the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) on Saturday unanimously backed a 30-day ceasefire resolution in Syria to allow for humanitarian aid deliveries and medical evacuations.

According to France's presidency said that the ceasefire resolution adopted was "an essential first step", and would be "extremely vigilant" over its implementation, according to local media reports.

The resolution comes in response to the seven-day airstrikes and bombings in the Eastern Ghouta region in Syria that has claimed over 500 lives so far.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres appealed on Wednesday for an immediate end to "war activities" there and had referred to the Syrians living in the Eastern Ghouta enclave near Damascus as "Hell on Earth".

Earlier, the UNSC was supposed to vote on the ceasefire in Syria on Thursday, which is seeing a bloody six-year-old civil war.

Negotiations stumbled over Russian demands that the rebel groups fighting Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's forces should comply with the resolution.

Russia, which is also a permanent member of the Security Council vetoed 11 times to protect the Syrian government.

The draft resolution put forward by Kuwait and Sweden, earlier called for a nationwide resolution to go into effect within 72 hours after the resolution is passed. Medical evacuations and aid deliveries would start 48 hours after adopting the resolution. However, the plan did not materialise.

The Bashar-led Syrian government and its close ally Russia have repeatedly said that the motive of airstrikes is to target militants.

They have said that they seek to stop mortar attacks injuring dozens in Damascus, and have accused the militants in Eastern Ghouta of capturing and holding people as "human shields".

Moscow, which intervened militarily in support of its Damascus ally in 2015, has denied any direct involvement in the Eastern Ghouta bombardment.

The Syrian military forces have not commented on the resolution so far.

At least 35 civilians were killed in Saturday's strikes, including eight children. A night of heavy bombardment sparked fires in residential districts, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) said in a statement.

Eastern Ghouta, which houses around 400,000 residents, has remained under a crippling regime siege for the last five years. (ANI)