France calls for urgent talks to restore Syria truce

AFP , Monday 2 May 2016

French FM
File photo of the French Foreign minister Jean-Marc Ayrault. (Photo: AP)

France called Monday on the International Syria Support Group to hold urgent ministerial-level talks to restore the country's tattered ceasefire, condemning deadly air strikes by the Damascus regime.

Paris urged the 17-nation ISSG to "restore the ceasefire, reaffirm the need to protect civilian populations... and give a chance to negotiations towards a political settlement," said foreign ministry spokesman Romain Nadal.

"France forcefully condemns the (Damascus) regime's attacks that have caused many casualties (and) calls on the supporters of the regime (Russia and Iran)... to use their influence on Damascus to silence the weapons," he said in a statement.

French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault, speaking during a trip to Mali, added that France was "totally mobilised" pressing for the peace process to resume "as quickly as possible.

"For that the strikes on Aleppo must stop," he said.

"We have told our US partners that we want the greatest pressure put on Russia to intervene with the Damascus regime" which Moscow supports, to stop the bombing of Aleppo.

The ISSG is co-chaired by the United States and Russia, which brokered the February 27 "cessation of hostilities" deal.

But the truce has been shattered in the past week, especially in Aleppo, where more than 250 civilians including some 50 children have been killed since April 22, most in air raids carried out by the Syrian regime.

US Secretary of State John Kerry, currently in Geneva in efforts to salvage the truce, said Syria's civil war was "in many ways out of control".

UN peace envoy Staffan de Mistura, who has been leading negotiations between Damascus and the opposition since the start of the year, is expected to hold talks with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in Moscow on Tuesday.

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