Merkel calls for safety zones in northern Syria: sources

FILE PHOTO: German Chancellor Angela Merkel attends a news conference after a migration summit at the Chancellery in Berlin, Germany, March 2, 2020. REUTERS/Hannibal Hanschke

BERLIN (Reuters) - German Chancellor Angela Merkel has told fellow conservative lawmakers that she is in favor of setting up safety zones in northern Syria where Turkey is in a deepening standoff with Russia, two participants at the meeting told Reuters on Tuesday.

Merkel also criticized Russian President Vladimir Putin for refusing to take part in a four-way meeting with Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan and French President Emmanuel Macron to de-escalate the Syrian crisis, the parliamentary sources added.

The RIA news agency cited the Kremlin as saying earlier on Tuesday that Putin discussed the situation in Syria’s Idlib region with Merkel in a telephone call.

The call came as fighting intensified in Syria’s Idlib region where Turkey and allied rebels are battling Russia-backed Syrian government forces. Nearly a million people have been displaced there in recent months.

Reporting by Andreas Rinke; Writing by Michael Nienaber; Editing by Paul Carrel