In a 50-minute teleconference with EU leaders, Vladimir Putin commits to the cease-fire that began a week ago in Syria. The EU leaders have issued the following statement:
"We ask all sides that are committing human rights violations, including Russia and the Syrian regime, to put an immediate end to the attacks against moderate opposition groups," they said in a joint statement ahead of Friday's teleconference.
French president, François Hollande, criticized Assad for scheduling elections for 13 April, calling the move "provocative" and "unrealistic." Putin has defended the elections. During the teleconference he said elections "do not interfere with steps to build the peace process," and he added that the elections were in line with the existing constitution of Syria.
In rebel-held areas in Syria today, small demonstrations demanded the impossible: they called for Assad to resign. ABC News reports:
Hundreds of Syrians protested in the eastern sector of the city of Aleppo, in the western Waer neighborhood of Homs and in Idlib province, calling on Assad's government to release detainees and lift several sieges — key demands of the opposition, ahead of peace talks planned to resume in Geneva next week.
Meanwhile, The US House Foreign Affairs Committee has passed a resolution accusing the Syrian government, Russia and Iran of war crimes and calling for an international tribunal on Syria. The resolution, passed two days ago, describes the Assad regime as guilty of "widespread torture and rape" and its forces of having "massacred civilians, including through the use of chemical weapons, cluster munitions, and barrel bombs."
Copyright © 2016 by Frank E. Smitha. All rights reserved.