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Britain, US consider more sanctions against Bashar al-Assad, supporters over Syria war

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Britain and the United States said they were considering imposing additional sanctions on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and his supporters for their actions in Syria’s war.

British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, speaking after briefing allies in London on a new diplomatic initiative on Syria, also called on Russia and Iran to agree to a new ceasefire.

The threat of more sanctions on Syria came before a European Union summit on Thursday and Friday to discuss sanctions against Russia.

“There’s a lot of measures we’re proposing to do with extra sanctions on the Syrian regime and their supporters, measures to bring those responsible for war crimes to the International Criminal Court,” Johnson told reporters after talks he convened with his U.S counterpart and allies on Syria.

“These things will eventually come to bite the perpetrators of these crimes and they should think about it now,” said Johnson, adding there was no appetite in Europe for going to war in Syria.

He said it was “highly dubious” that Syrian government forces backed by Russia were capable of retaking the city of Aleppo or winning the war, and called on Russia and Iran to show leadership by agreeing to a ceasefire.

“It is up to them to show mercy, show mercy to those people in that city and get the ceasefire going,” he added.

He spoke alongside Kerry, who briefed European and other allies on a new diplomatic initiative involving Russia and a group of Middle Eastern nations aimed at ending the fighting in Syria. The first round of talks in the Swiss city of Lausanne failed to agree on a strategy for ending the violence soon.
Kerry confirmed the U.S. was considering additional sanctions over Syria, but did not name Russia as a target.

Western powers have accused Russia and Syria of committing atrocities by bombing hospitals, killing civilians and preventing medical evacuations, as well as targeting an aid convoy with the loss of around 20 lives.

Syria and Russia say they are only targeting militants in Aleppo and accuse the United States of breaking the ceasefire by bombing scores of Syrian troops fighting Islamic State insurgents, over which the United States has expressed regret.

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