German leader renews call for Syria no-fly zone

DAMASCUS, Syria -- German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Wednesday reiterated her proposal for a no-fly zone in Syria where civilians would be protected, a suggestion that was promptly rebuffed by Moscow, which said it can only be done with the Syrian government's consent.

See Full Article

In Damascus, over 100 trucks loaded with humanitarian aid were expected to head out to five besieged areas in in the country, part of an effort described by a Russian official as a first step toward implementation of an agreement reached among world powers in Munich last week.

UN envoy Staffan de Mistura has been trying to secure aid deliveries to improve the chances of restarting peace talks before the end of February. But those efforts have been clouded by the intense fighting north of Aleppo, where various forces backed by regional and international rivals are clashing over a crucial strip of land linking Syria's largest city to the border with Turkey.

The violence in Aleppo and lack of improvement on the humanitarian front led to the collapse of indirect talks between the Syrian government and its opponents in Geneva earlier this month.

It appears also to have revived a long-standing proposal to establish a no-fly zone in northern Syria -- an idea that has been repeatedly floated by Turkey and other opponents of Syrian President Bashar Assad throughout the five-year-old war.

A no-fly zone would potentially create a safe haven for tens of thousands of displaced Syrians. But Washington has long rejected the idea, fearing it would draw U.S. forces further into the civil war.

Merkel expressed support for the idea on Tuesday, and repeated it again on Wednesday. She said it could be done by agreement between Assad, his backers and the coalition fighting the Islamic State group.

At a news conference, she said such an agreement would be "a sign of good will" and would put many people at ease.

Enforcing a no-fly zone has become considerably more difficult since Russia began its air campaign in Syria late last year. A senior Russian diplomat, Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov, shrugged off Merkel's proposal, saying it would require Damascus' consent and Security Council approval.

The U.S., Russia and other world powers agreed last week on ceasing hostilities within a week, the delivery of urgently needed aid to besieged areas of Syria and a call to return to peace talks in Geneva.

Gatilov said that "the implementation of the Munich agreements on Syrian settlement has started."

He said a working group on humanitarian access to the besieged areas has met and is set to again meet Thursday. He said it will discuss practical issues related to the aid delivery.

"It's important that the Syrian government has officially declared that it would provide access to seven besieged cities," Gatilov said, according to Interfax.

In Damascus on Tuesday, de Mistura suggested that humanitarian aid would be allowed into several besieged areas Wednesday, calling it the "duty of the government of Syria."

"Tomorrow we test this," he said after meeting with Syria's foreign minister. The UN later said the Syrian government has approved access to seven such areas across the country and that convoys would head out in the coming days.

The Syrian foreign ministry hit back Wednesday, saying "we do not wait for anyone to remind us of our duties toward our people."

"In fact, the Syrian government is the one that needs to test the credibility of the UN envoy," a statement said.

Still, the convoys appeared to be preparing to head to besieged areas Wednesday. At least 16 trucks were parked on the side of the highway at the entrance to Damascus, waiting to leave for the besieged rebel-held towns of Madaya, Zabadani and Moadamiyeh near the capital.

According to the agreement, aid would simultaneously be delivered to two communities in the northern Idlib province that are besieged by rebels.

The convoys represent the third humanitarian aid delivery to the besieged communities after two similar efforts last month.

The UN estimates that 18 Syrian communities are besieged, affecting around half a million people.

Associated Press writers Vladimir Isachenkov in Moscow, Zeina Karam in Beirut and David Rising in Berlin contributed to this report



Advertisements

Latest Canada & World News

  • Calgary girl, 3, in desperate need of expensive cancer treatment

    Canada News CTV News
    If music could cure cancer, three-year-old Greta Marofke wouldn't have any problem. As it stands, the little tyke and her parents are now significantly closer to paying for costly surgery that could save her life, thanks to the efforts of the Calgary community this weekend. Source
  • 'We want to bring them home': Fort Chipewyan continues search for missing hunters

    Canada News CBC News
    Hunters from Fort Chipewyan, Alta., usually start their spring hunt each April. South winds warm the air, the ice on Lake Athabasca melts, the rivers begin to flow and hunters head to their trap lines. Source
  • Canadian minimum wage workers say they're surviving rather than living

    Canada News CTV News
    MONTREAL - Erendira Achati Keriti needed winter clothes, but she knew she couldn't afford to buy them new. She managed to save enough money to buy second-hand garments, only to find they'd already been snapped up by the time she made it back to the thrift store. Source
  • Famed Swiss climber Ueli Steck killed near Mount Everest in Nepal

    World News Toronto Sun
    KATHMANDU, Nepal — A Swiss climber acclaimed for his rapid ascents — including scaling dozens of peaks in the Alps in a little more than two months — was killed Sunday in a mountaineering accident near Mount Everest in Nepal, expedition organizers said. Source
  • N.S. premier calls an election

    Canada News Toronto Sun
    HALIFAX — Nova Scotia Premier Stephen McNeil has called a provincial election for May 30, seeking a second consecutive mandate from voters. McNeil dropped the writ this afternoon after meeting with Lt.-Gov. J.J. Grant at Government House in Halifax. Source
  • Suspected U.S. airstrike kills 4 al-Qaeda operatives in Yemen

    World News CTV News
    SANAA, Yemen -- A suspected U.S. airstrike killed four al-Qaeda operatives in Yemen's eastern province of Marib on Sunday, Yemeni tribal and security officials said. The officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to brief the media, say the operatives killed were driving a car when an unmanned aircraft targeted their vehicle. Source
  • Tornadoes, flooding kill at least 6 in parts of U.S. South, Midwest [Photos]

    World News Toronto Sun
    CANTON, Texas — Severe storms including tornadoes have swept through several small towns in East Texas, leaving a trail of overturned vehicles, mangled trees and damaged homes. Authorities believe at least four people were killed and dozens injured, though they were still assessing the damage from the storms that swept through an area about 50 miles (80 kilometres) east of Dallas on Saturday evening. Source
  • Emotional encounter between organ recipient and donor family

    Canada News CTV News
    On Saturday Saskatoon’s Jillian Langen, 28, finally met the family of the person who saved her life. “It’s almost like meeting family that you didn’t know you had,” Langen told CTV Saskatoon. Langen had been suffering from cystic fibrosis which had destroyed her lungs when she received a double lung transplant from 23-year-old Leanne Germain, who had died in Feb. Source
  • Trump warns North Korea's missiles will get better

    World News CTV News
    SEOUL, Korea, Republic Of -- U.S. President Donald Trump said after North Korea's latest failed rocket launch that communist leader Kim Jong-Un will eventually develop better missiles, and "we can't allow it to happen." In a taped interview broadcast Sunday on CBS' "Face the Nation," the president would not discuss the possibility of military action, saying: "It is a chess game. Source
  • Donald Trump: Kim Jong Un 'a pretty smart cookie' for being able to hold onto power

    World News Toronto Sun
    SEOUL, Korea, Republic Of — U.S. President Donald Trump said in a television interview to be aired Sunday that he believes China’s president has been putting pressure on North Korea as it pursues its missile and nuclear weapons programs. Source