PARIS (Reuters) - France on Monday said that Russia had to use its influence on the Syrian government to ensure it kept to a U.N.-backed nationwide ceasefire, and told Turkey the truce also applied to its operations against Kurdish militants in the Afrin region.
Two days after a U.N. Security Council resolution demanding a 30-day ceasefire across the country, Syria’s army and its allies have continued their assault on the rebel-held enclave of eastern Ghouta near Damascus, and Turkey deployed police special forces to the northwestern Syrian region of Afrin on Monday for a “new battle” against the Kurdish YPG militia.
“The president ... stressed that the humanitarian truce applied to all of Syria, including Afrin, and should be implemented everywhere and by all without any delay,” Macron’s office said after a call with Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan.
Macron accused Syrian government forces of violating the U.N. resolution as attacks continued on hospitals and civilians in eastern Ghouta, and said the spiral of violence had to end before it led to a wider regional conflict.
“Russia, as a permanent member of the Security Council, must now assume all its responsibilities towards the Syrian regime it supports,” the statement said.
Macron’s foreign minister, Jean-Yves Le Drian, travels to Russia on Tuesday to seek common ground on how to ensure this truce, unlike others, is implemented, French diplomats said.
French officials said Le Drian would discuss a document drawn up by Britain, France, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and the United States that makes recommendations to revive U.N.-led peace talks, with what they called a “practical approach” to what would be a slow political process.
“We have the tragic events in eastern Ghouta and are possibly preparing for other tragedies in Idlib and Afrin,” said a diplomatic source. “All that is in the context of the political dynamic in Geneva being bogged down, so this is one of the few documents that could create a consensus.”
The Security Council voted unanimously to demand a truce to allow aid access and medical evacuations. While Moscow backed the resolution, Russian U.N. Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia cast doubt on its feasibility.
Macron also told Erdogan that he was worried about recent events off the coast of Cyprus, stressing “the need to respect Cyprus’s sovereignty”, the statement said.
Cyprus accused Turkey on Friday of threatening to use force against a drillship chartered by Italy’s Eni, in a standoff over hydrocarbon rights in the eastern Mediterranean.
Reporting by Ingrid Melander; Editing by Richard Lough and Kevin Liffey
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