EU urges halt to Syrian offensive in Idlib, vows new aid

BRUSSELS (AP) — The European Union is urging an immediate halt to a crushing offensive by Syrian forces that has displaced nearly 1 million people in recent weeks.

The 27-nation EU said in a statement early Friday that it is ready to boost aid to the most vulnerable civilians affected in Syria’s Idlib region.

As tensions mount between Russia and Turkey, which are backing opposite sides in Syria’s civil war, the EU called for a sustainable cease-fire on all sides and “to allow unimpeded and direct humanitarian access to all those in need.”

The offensive by Syrian President Bashar Assad’s forces is aimed at recapturing remaining opposition-held areas and has triggered the biggest single wave of fleeing civilians in Syria’s nine-year war.

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German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron talked to Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday and proposed urgent talks with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to ease tensions.

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