Merkel, Putin discuss peace deal for Syria's last rebel stronghold



MOSCOW (dpa)- German Chancellor Angela Merkel discussed Russia's recent peace deal with Turkey for Syria's last rebel stronghold, Idlib, in a phone call on Wednesday with Russian leader Vladimir Putin, the Kremlin said.
The conversation, initiated by the German side, also touched upon the situation in war-torn eastern Ukraine, particularly regarding last month's assassination of a pro-Russian rebel leader, according to the Kremlin statement.



Merkel and Putin met last month for their first bilateral meeting in Germany since the start of the Ukraine conflict four years ago. Both leaders at the time expressed support for a proposed UN peacekeeping mission in Ukraine's two eastern-most regions, which border Russia.
Amid that meeting, Putin called for increased humanitarian assistance for war-torn Syria in an effort to facilitate the return of refugees to their homeland.
Merkel has faced domestic political pressure for opening Germany's borders to hundreds of thousands of Syrian refugees three years ago.
Russia, the main military backer of the Syrian government in the conflict, has in recent months switched its focus from bombing raids to the establishment of civilian safe zones, with a view to enabling Syrian refugees to return.
Russia clinched a peace deal with Turkey this week for Syria's north-western Idlib region, near the Turkish border, foreseeing the creation of a demilitarized zone for the safe evacuation of civilians and the withdrawal of militants.
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Thursday, September 20th 2018
dpa
           


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