Mogherini demands immediate cease-fire

EU’s diplomatic chief Federica Mogherini

:: The EU’s diplomatic chief Federica Mogherini has demanded that a UN-backed cease-fire in Syria be implemented “immediately,” as fresh regime strikes on the opposition-held enclave of Eastern Ghouta killed 10 civilians.

Mogherini said a UN Security Council resolution passed on Saturday calling for a 30-day cease-fire inSyraSyria “without delay” was an “encouraging” step but needed to be followed up with action.

The Security Council resolution was a “necessary and encouraging step but a first step,” Mogherini said as she arrived for a meeting of EU foreign ministers in Brussels.

“Now that resolution needs to be immediately implemented, to have monitoring mechanisms.”

The bloc also added Syria’s new information and industry ministers to its sanctions blacklist following their appointment last month. A total of 257 people are now subject to EU travel bans and asset freezes over their role in the Syrian conflict.

Luxembourg Foreign Minister Jean Asselborn said the situation in Ghouta was a “disgrace,” describing it as like the “Middle Ages.”

Also on Monday, French President Emmanuel Macron told his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan that the UN cease-fire for Syria must be applied across the country, including in Afrin.

During a telephone call between the two leaders, Macron said the 30-day cease-fire “involved all Syrian territory, including in Afrin, and must be put into effect everywhere and by everyone without delay,” the French presidency said.

He added that Turkey, Russia and Iran, the three countries overseeing talks in Astana aimed at ending the ncivil war, “have a direct responsibility in this regard that must be applied on the ground.”

Ankara last month launched an offensive against the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) militia in Afrin in northern Syria.

According to sources in the Turkish president’s office, Erdogan told Macron that measures were being taken to avoid civilian casualties in Afrin.

Erdogan also reiterated that the offensive was aimed at “clearing terrorists” from the area so that Syrian refugees could return to their country.

Macron told Erdogan he was “deeply worried” about the bombardments of Eastern Ghouta, saying France would remain “vigilant” concerning humanitarian access to the area and any use of chemical weapons.

Earlier this month Macron warned that France would carry out strikes against the Syrian regime if proof emerges that it has used banned chemical weapons against civilians.

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