UK, US leaders urge Russia to use influence in Syria


Russia must influence Bashar al-Assad's regime in Syria to end violence and to protect civilians, British and US leaders agreed on Sunday.

British Prime Minister Theresa May and U.S. President Donald Trump discussed the latest situation in Syria, on a phone call, a government statement said.

"They discussed Syria, and the appalling humanitarian situation in Eastern Ghouta," it said.

"They agreed it was a humanitarian catastrophe, and that the overwhelming responsibility for the heart-breaking human suffering lay with the Syrian regime and Russia, as the regime's main backer," the statement added.

May and Trump also "agreed that Russia and others with influence over the Syrian regime must act now to cease their campaign of violence and to protect civilians."

The attacks carried out by the Assad regime and its supporters in Eastern Ghouta have killed more than 700 civilians according to reports.

Eastern Ghouta has been under siege for the last five years; humanitarian access to the area, which is home to 400,000 people, has been completely cut off.

In the past eight months, Assad regime forces have intensified their siege of Eastern Ghouta, making it nearly impossible for food or medicine to get into the district and leaving thousands of patients in need of treatment.

During the phone call, May also raised the U.K.'s "deep concern at the President's forthcoming announcement on steel and aluminum tariffs."

She told Trump that "multilateral action was the only way to resolve the problem of global overcapacity in all parties' interests," the statement said.

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