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Germany's Steinmeier urges Russia to support lasting ceasefire in Syria
September 29, 2016 / 6:03 PM / in 10 months

Germany's Steinmeier urges Russia to support lasting ceasefire in Syria

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BERLIN (Reuters) - Germany's foreign minister urged Russia on Thursday to do more to bring about and enforce a lasting ceasefire in Syria, saying the situation there had escalated into "a humanitarian catastrophe."

Earlier on Thursday, Russia vowed to press on with its assault in Syria while U.S. officials cast about for a tougher response to Moscow's decision to ignore the peace process and seek military victory on behalf of President Bashar al-Assad.

German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier spoke by telephone with Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov and called on Moscow and Washington to resume ceasefire discussions.

He said the two sides should hammer out at least a temporary truce to allow the delivery of humanitarian aid to trapped civilians, Berlin's foreign ministry said in a statement.

"Foreign Minister Steinmeier noted that the situation in Syria has worsened dramatically since the resumption of the fighting and has now turned into a humanitarian catastrophe.

Moscow and Damascus launched an assault to recapture the rebel-held sector of Aleppo this month, abandoning a new ceasefire a week after it took effect to embark on what could be the biggest battle of a nearly six-year war.

"The longer the brutal attacks of the Syrian air force and the deployment of ground forces in east Aleppo last, the further we move away from any chance of ending the boundless violence," the German Foreign Ministry statement said.

Steinmeier was expected to meet U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry in Jerusalem on Friday on the sidelines of the funeral of former Israeli president Shimon Peres.

Reporting by Andrea Shalal; editing by Mark Heinrich

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