US, Britain, France lead call for Aleppo ceasefire

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PARIS: The United States, Britain and France led a call Wednesday from six countries for an immediate ceasefire to allow aid into the besieged Syrian city of Aleppo.

A statement jointly issued with Canada, Germany and Italy also hit out at the regime in Damascus and its foreign backers, “especially Russia”, accusing them of blocking emergency help.

“The urgent need now is for an immediate ceasefire to allow the United Nations to get humanitarian assistance to people in eastern Aleppo,” the statement said.

The countries said 200,000 civilians in Aleppo, including many children, were “cut off from food and medicine supplies”.

A humanitarian disaster is “taking place before our very eyes,” the six countries said.

“We condemn the actions of the Syrian regime and its foreign backers, especially Russia, for their obstruction of humanitarian aid,” the statement said.

Aleppo is being subjected to daily bombings and artillery attacks by the Syrian regime supported by Russia and Iran, is said, adding that hospitals and schools “appear to be the targets of attack in an attempt to wear people down”.

“The images of dying children are heart-breakingThey called on Iran and Russia to “use their influence” to ensure Damascus agrees the UN’s four-point plan for Aleppo.

The plan aims at allowing humanitarian aid into the shattered east of the city where regime forces are seizing control of rebel-held areas, and for sick or injured to be evacuated.

Earlier, French President Francois Hollande accused Russia of “systematic obstruction” at the UN Security Council after the failure of a resolution calling for a seven-day ceasefire in Aleppo.

Russia vetoed the French-backed measure on Tuesday in New York, the sixth time it has blocked a council resolution on Syria since the conflict began in March 2011. China also vetoed it.