President Putin to discuss Syria with Merkel and Hollande in Berlin 0

The French, German and Russian leaders are set to meet in the German capital to discuss the Syrian crisis, as a brief truce has been introduced by Russia and Syria for the embattled city of Aleppo. French and Russian presidents Francois Hollande and Vladimir Putin and German Chancellor Angela Merkel will meet in Berlin on Wednesday, according to Hollande’s office.

An aide to Hollande said the meeting is aimed at “giving the message” to the Russian president that “a durable ceasefire” and humanitarian access is needed for Aleppo. Russia, which has been conducting an aerial military campaign against extremist militants in Syria, has repeatedly voiced its readiness for a ceasefire. Russia has been insisting, however, that any such lull in fighting should be accompanied with a meticulous separation of terrorists from other, less extremist militants fighting against the Syrian government.

Western countries, including the US, have been reluctant to do any such separation. Al-Nusra Front, which has recently renamed itself and claimed to have broken up with al-Qaeda, is one of the handful of terrorist groups that have mingled with almost all the other militant outfits fighting in Syria, including inside Aleppo.

The Syrian and Russian militaries have also set up humanitarian corridors around Aleppo to allow the safe exit of civilians trapped in the city ever since a major offensive began to retake it. Damascus and Moscow say, however, that the militants are preventing the civilians from leaving the city.