EU leaders push for ceasefire in Eastern Ghouta

European leaders called Friday (February 23rd) for an immediate ceasefire in Syria to allow for humanitarian aid and evacuations after more than 400 civilians were killed in the opposition-held region of Eastern Ghouta, AFP reported.

French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel wrote to Russian President Vladimir Putin urging him to back a UN Security Council resolution for a ceasefire in Syria, France's presidency said.

It said the letter, sent while Macron and Merkel were at an EU summit in Brussels, asked Russia to support the draft resolution calling for a 30-day truce in Syria, mainly to allow medical and other aid to reach Eastern Ghouta and allow evacuations.

EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini also called for an immediate ceasefire.

"The massacre in Eastern Ghouta must stop now," Mogherini said. "The EU is running out of words to describe the horror being experienced by the people of Eastern Ghouta."

"The Syrian regime must immediately stop targeting its own people and fulfil its primary responsibility to protect them," Mogherini added.

The UN Security Council was set to vote Friday on a draft resolution demanding a 30-day ceasefire in Syria to allow for humanitarian aid and medical evacuations.

A slightly amended text was circulated to council members late Thursday, but it was unclear whether Russia would support the measure, which has been under negotiations for two weeks.

The draft resolution would pave the way for the truce to go into effect 72 hours after the adoption of the measure and for aid deliveries and medical evacuations to begin 48 hours after that.

It demands the immediate lifting of all sieges including in Eastern Ghouta, Yarmouk, Foua and Kefraya and orders all sides to "cease depriving civilians of food and medicine indispensable to their survival".

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