By Ayhan Simsek
BERLIN (AA) - Germany has accused Bashar al-Assad’s regime of carrying out a massacre in Eastern Ghouta near Damascus, and called on the regime’s backers Russia and Iran to use their influence to stop bombing of civilians.
Speaking at a news conference in Berlin, Chancellor Angela Merkel’s spokesman condemned the recent airstrikes by the al-Assad’s regime, which killed a large number of civilians in the besieged Syrian district of Eastern Ghouta.
“This is not fight against terrorism, this is a military campaign against the country’s civilian population,” spokesman Steffen Seibert said.
Over 190 civilians have been killed, hundreds of others were injured by intensified Syrian regime attacks in the Damascus suburbs of Eastern Ghouta since Monday.
Seibert said the regime was deliberately targeting civilian infrastructure and hospitals, and was blocking humanitarian access to the area, in order to force the armed opposition groups in the besieged district to surrender.
He called on the regime’s backers Russia and Iran to use their influence to prevent further massacres in Eastern Ghouta.
“Where is Russia and where is Iran, which announced in Astana that they would also ensure cease-fire in Eastern Ghouta?” he asked.
“Without the support of these two allies, the al-Assad regime would not have the military strength it has now. And without this support, the regime would have demonstrated more willingness to negotiate a political solution within the UN process,” he added.
Seibert said Germany demanded from the regime an immediate end to the “massacre” in Eastern Ghouta, and an unhindered humanitarian access to the district.
“We are also calling on the backers of the al-Assad regime to use their influence for this purpose,” he added.
Eastern Ghouta falls within a network of de-escalation zones -- endorsed by Turkey, Russia and Iran -- in which acts of aggression are expressly prohibited.
Home to some 400,000 civilian residents, Eastern Ghouta has remained under a crippling regime siege for the last five years.
Syria has been locked in a devastating civil war since March 2011 when the Assad regime cracked down on pro-democracy protests with unexpected ferocity.
While UN officials say hundreds of thousands of people have been killed in the conflict, Syrian regime officials say the death toll is closer to 10,000.