German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Francois Hollande said on Wednesday (19 October) that would not rule out imposing sanctions on Russia for air strikes carried out on the embattled Syrian city of Aleppo.
At a news conference with Merkel, President Hollande said: "What's happening in Aleppo at the moment is a war crime – a true war crime, one of the first demands is that the bombardments by the regime and its [Russian] backers must end."
He added, "Everything that can constitute a threat can be useful." On the other hand, Merkel said, "You can't deprive yourself of the option [of additional sanctions]. Tomorrow, however, the primary question is how we can help the people in Aleppo." She also said that the air raids on the Syrian city were "inhuman and cruel".
Speaking about the planned ceasefire that is set to begin in Aleppo on Thursday, Hollande said that the Russian leader appeared to be ready to extend the ceasefire, which will last for 11 hours. "We came out of the meeting with the impression that there could be an extension of the truce, but it's up to the Syrian regime and Russia to show it," the French president said. He added that the ceasefire for a few hours would not be sufficient to deliver the much needed humanitarian aid and allow people to leave the city.
Meanwhile, Syrian forces loyal to Bashar al-Assad said that the truce will last up to three days. Aleppo has come under heavy bombing since the offensive initiated to take control of eastern part of the city, by the Syrian regime – backed by Russian warplanes – began in late September.
Residential buildings and civilian facilities have been obliterated in air raids, which the European Union says could amount to war crimes.