politics

Merkel, Macron Demand Putin Act on Syria in Joint Letter

  • German-French show of unity adds to global pressure on Assad
  • Hundreds have been killed in siege of Damascus suburb

German and French leaders wrote a joint letter to Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday urging him to use his leverage over Syria’s Bashar Al-Assad to stop the killing on the outskirts of Damascus.

Germany Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron made a show of unity as Europe’s two most powerful leaders, adding to the global outcry over the bombardments in Eastern Ghouta, where more than 400 civilians have been killed since last Sunday, according to the U.K.-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

“France and Germany call on Russia to take up its responsibility,” Merkel’s chief spokesman Steffen Seibert said in a statement announcing the letter. The attacks in Syria “violate fundamental rules of international humanitarian law.”

The Merkel-Macron letter aimed specifically at securing a resolution on the United Nations Security Council establishing a 30-day ceasefire. The Kremlin opposed a UN resolution sponsored by Sweden and Kuwait on Thursday as diplomats regroup to seek a compromise.

Merkel, one of Putin’s main European interlocutors, made reference to Russia’s responsibility as a Syrian ally in the “massacre” in Eastern Ghouta during an address to German parliament on Thursday.

— With assistance by Helene Fouquet

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