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Russian intervention in Syria pushes Europe towards Assad

Russia has succeeded in minimising the importance of US anger over its support for the regime of Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad after several European leaders called for cooperation with al-Assad to reach a solution for the four year civil war.

The German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Saturday that Germany and other EU countries should work with Russia and the US to resolve the crisis in Syria.

In an article published in the New York Times, German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said the recent agreement between Iran and the six world powers opened a new window of opportunity for the region and possibly a chance to break the gridlock on Syria.

The minister warned that there are worrying signs that this opportunity for progress in Syria is slipping away including “reports of ongoing Russian support for the Syrian Army, Iranian pledges of unconditional support for Mr Assad and new preconditions for peace talks from neighbouring countries.”

“It would be folly to continue betting on a military solution,” he said.

“Instead, now is the time to find a way to bring the parties to the negotiating table. This must include preparatory talks with and among crucial regional actors like Saudi Arabia and Turkey, but also Iran,” he wrote.

Austria also called for a similar proposal on Friday.

Austrian Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz said the “West should involve Assad and his allies Iran and Russia to fight rebel Islamic State militants seeking to advance across Syria and to establish an Islamic ‘caliphate’ in the Middle East.”

Meanwhile, British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond said Bashar Al-Assad could remain as Syrian president for up to six months during a transition process as long as his sponsors, Iran and Russia, agree to require his eventual departure.

Spain’s Foreign Minister Jose Manuel Garcia Margallo said on Tuesday last week that negotiations with Al-Assad were key to securing a ceasefire in Syria.

Meanwhile, the Los Angeles Times reported that the Obama administration is facing increasing pressure from the international coalition to expand military action in Syria after Russia increased its intervention in the conflict sending more arms and troops to support the Assad regime at a time when the Daesh militants are controlling more areas in the country.

Last year, President Obama said in a press conference that the United States did not yet have a clear strategy to deal with the Syrian war.

Officials in the United States and its allies also said they do not yet know Russia’s intention in Syria, but fear its intervention could enhance Al-Assad’s military capabilities and prolong the civil war that has already claimed the lives of more than 300,000 people over the past four years.

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EUEurope & RussiaGermanyIranMiddle EastNewsRussiaSyriaTurkey
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