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The New Arab

Germany and France push for new Syria peace effort following Western airstrikes

Foreign Minister Maas has struck a more forceful tone on Russia than his predecessors [Anadolu]

Date of publication: 15 April, 2018

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Germany has called for a new push for peace in Syria, after US-led airstrikes on Saturday hit three sites linked to Damascus' chemical weapons programme.
Germany has called for new international efforts to end the war in Syria after its European allies - France and the UK - joined a US-led military intervention against the Syrian regime on Saturday.

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas singled out Russia for using its veto to routinely block UN-led peace initiatives to halt the proliferation of violence in Syria, which has mostly been blamed on Moscow's ally, Bashar al-Assad's regime.

A new push for peace is being led by France and follows Western intervention in Syria early Saturday morning, targeting sites linked to Damascus' chemical weapons' programme.

NATO met Saturday to follow up on the strikes, which Berlin did not participate in but backed.

Maas said Germany will work with France, US and UK on Sunday to discuss the next steps to be taken following Saturday's intervention.

"We will work together with France for the creation of an international format of influential states that can provide new momentum for the political process," Maas said.

The forceful tone highlights a new approach from Germany, which has generally avoided backing military intervention.

On Saturday, Germany backed the US-led strikes on three sites in Syria saying they were "necessary and appropriate" to prevent Assad using chemical weapons again.

Despite condemning Russia, Maas also said Moscow should be part of the solution in Syria owing to their critical role in the conflict. Russia intervened to back Assad with airstrikes in 2015 and has used its diplomatic weight to protect the regime.

"Whether we like it or not, without Russia, the political process will not succeed," he said.

He also appeared to back the UN roadmap for peace in Syria, which is seen as tougher on the regime than the alternative Russian-sponsored Astana roadmap.

"The key milestones will be creation of a transition government, a constitutional reform and elections," Maas added.

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