German Chancellor Angela Merkel has sharply criticized Russia for airstrikes which killed hundreds of ciPutinvilians in Syria and said she will raise the issue with President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday.
Merkel spoke at a news conference in Berlin on Tuesday and said: “With regard to the humanitarian situation, things have become even more disastrous.
“And this is clearly due to the Syrian [regime] and Russian airstrikes which also targeted helpless people, hospitals and doctors.”
Merkel did not rule out the possibility of new sanctions against Russia due to its support for the Syrian regime’s bombardments in the northern city of Aleppo.
“In view of the current situation, I believe that we cannot take any options, including possible sanctions, off the table. But our first priority should be to alleviate the suffering of the people in one way or another,” she said.
Putin is scheduled to visit Berlin on Wednesday, to join leaders of Germany, France and Ukraine for four-party talks on the conflict in eastern Ukraine.
Merkel said she and French President Francois Hollande would discuss the situation in Syria with Putin on the sidelines of the Ukrainian meeting.
She cautioned against high expectations from Wednesday’s encounter, but underlined the need for maintaining dialogue on Syria.
“One cannot expect any miracles here. But talks remain to be important again and again, even though our opinions are sharply divided,” she said.
Hundreds of civilians have reportedly been killed or injured in bombings since Sept. 19, when the Bashar al-Assad regime announced the end of a week-long truce sponsored by Washington and Moscow.
At least 320 children have been wounded and 114 have died in the last three weeks, according to the international medical aid organization Doctors Without Borders.
Amid growing international pressure, Russia announced Monday an eight-hour pause in attacks on Aleppo to allow aid to be delivered and civilians to leave.
Syria has been locked in a vicious civil war since early 2011, when the Assad regime cracked down on pro-democracy protests — which erupted as part of the “Arab Spring” uprisings — with unexpected ferocity.
Since then, more than a quarter of a million people have been killed and more than 10 million displaced across the war-torn country, according to UN figures.
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