Russian leader could end Syria war by phone call: Hammond

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
British Foreign Minister Philip Hammond arrives to attend an EU council foreign ministers meeting in Amsterdam, February 5, 2016. (AFP)

Britain's Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond says Russian President Vladimir Putin is the only one who can put an end to the years-long bloody conflict in Syria.  

"There's one man on this planet who can end the civil war in Syria by making a phone call, and that's Mr Putin," Hammond told BBC’s ‘The Andrew Marr Show’ on Sunday.

He also said that "whether or not [Syrian President Bashar al-] Assad goes or stays ultimately will depend on whether the Russians are prepared to use their influence to remove him.”

Hammond said there are roughly 150,000 forces which he described as ‘moderate opposition’ in Syria, adding that they are now suffering from Russian airstrikes there. 

"The Russians have launched ferocious air attacks, rapidly increasing the intensity of them over the last few weeks, and that has forced them out of some of the positions they control.”

The UK foreign secretary also called on the Russians to stop airstrikes in Syria, which he called "carpet bombing tactics" and "indiscriminate bombing of civilian areas."

"We demand that the Russians comply with their obligations under international law and their obligations under UN Security Council resolutions that they have signed up to," said Hammond.

Russia launched its aerial campaign against the Daesh Takfiri terrorists and other militant groups in Syria on September 30, 2015, upon a request from the Damascus government. The air raids have expedited the advances of Syrian forces against militants.

Russian servicemen prepare a Sukhoi Su-30SM fighter jet before departure on a mission at the Russian Hmeimin military base in Latakia Province, in the northwest of Syria, on December 16, 2015. (AFP)

Hammond’s comments come days after an international ceasefire plan for Syria.

The International Syria Support Group (ISSG) agreed in Munich, Germany to a “cessation of hostilities” in Syria and to implement a ceasefire in a week. The ISSG members also asked the UN to resume the collapsed peace talks between the Syrian government and ‘opposition group’ known as the High Negotiations Committee (HNC) that would represent a number of opposition groups in upcoming talks.

The foreign-sponsored conflict in Syria, which flared in March 2011, has claimed the lives of some 470,000 people and left 1.9 million injured, according to the Syrian Center for Policy Research.

Moreover, 6.36 million people have been displaced internally and more than four million others have fled the country since the beginning of the conflict. That accounts for 45 percent of the country’s population, which has shrunk by 21 percent.

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