World Bulletin / News Desk
Speaking at the annual Berlin Foreign Policy Forum, German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said the Bashar al-Assad regime is trying to exploit a political vacuum in the wake of Donald Trump’s U.S. election victory by stepping up its military offensive in eastern Aleppo.
“The regime hopes that a victory in eastern Aleppo would be decisive for the whole conflict. I do not share this opinion,” Steinmeier said.
“As so many neighbors and regional actors are involved, this conflict would not come to an end, irrespective of what will be achieved now militarily in eastern Aleppo,” he stressed.
Since mid-November, more than 600 civilians have been killed – and hundreds more injured – in regime attacks on eastern Aleppo.
Decrying the “catastrophic” humanitarian situation, Steinmeier called for international efforts to provide urgent humanitarian assistance to the besieged neighborhoods of eastern Aleppo within the next few days.
The top German diplomat said he will travel to Minsk later today for talks on the Ukrainian crisis, adding that during bilateral meeting with his Russian counterpart, he will also raise the issue of the humanitarian crisis in eastern Aleppo.
Syrian regime forces have recently stepped up their attacks on opposition-held parts of eastern Aleppo in an effort to retake the city and advance on Idlib, one of the Syrian opposition’s last strongholds.
The fierce bombardments have forced hospitals and other medical facilities in the war-battered city to cease operations, while most academic activities have come to a complete stop.
Syria has been locked in a devastating civil war since early 2011, when the Assad regime cracked down on pro-democracy protests – which erupted as part of the Arab Spring uprisings – with unexpected ferocity.
Since then, hundreds of thousands of people are believed to have been killed and millions more displaced by the conflict.