Hollande calls for Russia to end support for Assad

While peace talks continue in Munich, French leader says Assad ‘is massacring some of his own people’

Russian President Vladimir Putin (R) welcomes French President Francois Hollande before a meeting at the Kremlin in Moscow on November 26, 2015. (AFP/Alexander Zemlianichenko)
Russian President Vladimir Putin (R) welcomes French President Francois Hollande before a meeting at the Kremlin in Moscow on November 26, 2015. (AFP/Alexander Zemlianichenko)

PARIS — French President Francois Hollande called Thursday for Russia to halt its military action in support of Syrian President Bashar Assad.

“We need to ensure that Bashar Assad leaves power and at the moment, helped by the Russians, he is massacring some of his own people, even if he is also taking action against a certain number of terrorists,” Hollande said, adding: “I ask that Russia’s actions stop.”

As Hollande was speaking, the main players in the Syrian conflict were meeting in Munich to attempt to persuade Russia to agree to a ceasefire.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said as he began talks with US Secretary of State John Kerry that Moscow had made “propositions for a ceasefire that are quite specific.”

Syrians fleeing the embattled northern city of Aleppo wait near a crossing into Turkey in Bab-Al Salama, near the northern city of Azaz, on February 5, 2016. (AFP/Bulent Kilic)
Syrians fleeing the embattled northern city of Aleppo wait near a crossing into Turkey in Bab-Al Salama, near the northern city of Azaz, on February 5, 2016. (AFP/Bulent Kilic)

Russia has refused to confirm reports that its ceasefire would not take effect before March 1, allowing another three weeks for an ongoing regime offensive against Aleppo, which the UN says could leave 300,000 people under siege.

Bombing from Russian planes is assisting Syrian forces.

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