Germany and Turkey vow to end Aleppo violence
As tens of thousands of Syrians fleeing violence massed at Turkey’s border, Turkish and German leaders pledged on Monday to redouble diplomatic efforts to end the fighting around the embattled Syrian city of Aleppo and prevent more refugees making their way into Europe.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel said after talks with Turkey Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu that she was “not just appalled but horrified” by the suffering caused by the bombing in Syria, primarily by Russia.
Merkel said Turkey and Germany would push at the United Nations for all sides to adhere to a U.N. resolution passed in December that calls for an immediate halt to attacks on civilians in Syria.
Merkel was in Ankara for talks on how to reduce the influx of migrants into Europe, mostly via a perilous boat crossing from Turkey to Greece. Turkey’s coast guard said Monday that another 27 migrants had died after their boat capsized in the Bay of Edremit while trying to reach the Greek island of Lesbos.
Her visit came after a Russian-backed Syrian government offensive around Aleppo sent up to 35,000 Syrians fleeing toward the border with Turkey in recent days.
Turkey has taken in 2.5 million Syrian refugees since the conflict began, and authorities say the country has reached its capacity to absorb refugees. The border crossing remained closed for a fourth day on Monday and aid groups continued to provide assistance to the Syrians massed at a displaced persons camp nearby.
Syrian army troops meanwhile, recaptured another village north of Aleppo on Monday, bringing troops and allied militiamen to within a few miles (kilometers) of the Turkish border.
Aleppo “is de facto under siege. We are on the verge of a new human tragedy,” Davutoglu said.
“No one should excuse or show tolerance toward the Russian air attacks that amount to ethnic massacres by saying, ‘Turkey takes care of the Syrian refugees anyway,’“ Davutoglu said. “No one can expect Turkey to take on the burden on its own.”
Added Merkel: “We have been, in the past few days, not just appalled but horrified by what has been caused in the way of human suffering for tens of thousands of people by bombing — primarily from the Russian side.”
“Under such circumstances, it’s hard for peace talks to take place, and so this situation must be brought to an end quickly,” Merkel said.