Merkel: Syria 'close to war crimes,' cites hospital bombings

German Chancellor Angela Merkel attends a news conference with the President of Nigeria Muhammadu Buhari after talks at the chancellery in Berlin, Germany, Friday, Oct. 14, 2016. (AP Photo/Markus Schreiber)

BERLIN - Some actions in Syria have come "very close to war crimes," German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Saturday, calling the bombing of hospitals and underground facilities in the besieged city of Aleppo "inhuman."

Merkel, speaking at a conference of her conservative Union bloc's youth wing in the western German city of Paderborn, did not explicitly attribute responsibility for those actions in Syria, but her condemnation of them was strong.

"I think we are very close to war crimes," she said. "Whether there are war crimes, the International Court of Justice decides ... the much more important thing would be, how we can stop it all and move on to a political process?"

She noted that talks between U.S. and Russia are resuming "but all these talks unfortunately haven't in the recent past led to a permanent cease-fire."

On Saturday, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov were meeting in Lausanne, Switzerland on Syria with the top diplomats of Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Qatar and Iran.

"Outrage and dismay are not enough — we have to try the impossible, we have to bring the parties to the conflict to one table," German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, who also has sought to move diplomatic efforts forward, told a meeting of his centre-left Social Democrats in Potsdam, outside Berlin.

"We must struggle for every millimeter of progress on the way to a solution," he said. "I hope that not just I, but others, will remain at the negotiating table ... there is no military solution in this conflict."


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