Rally urges Britain to find solution in Syria


London (AFP)

Around 150 people rallied in central London on Saturday calling for Britain to take decisive action to end the five-year war in Syria.

They piled up teddy bears outside Downing Street to symbolise the number of young casualties in the battered city of Aleppo from a recent surge in violence.

They also delivered a letter to Prime Minister Theresa May's 10 Downing Street office demanding she take action to help cease the bloodshed.

"We're here today to send a very strong message to Theresa May that what's happening in Aleppo just cannot continue," said James Sadri, director of The Syria Campaign, which calls for humanitarian action in the war-ravaged country.

"There's 100,000 children living under siege in eastern Aleppo being bombed every day. We need that to stop," he told AFP.

Hundreds of wounded civilians were stranded in rebel-held areas of Aleppo on Saturday as the United Nations said security concerns were again preventing evacuations despite Russia extending a ceasefire into a third day.

Demonstrators in London waved placards reading "May: stop Putin", "Child murder is a war crime" and "Save Aleppo's children".

They chanted: "Down with Bashar al-Assad! Down with dictators!"

Bert Wander, campaign director with the activist group Avaaz, told AFP: "They could impose sanctions on relevant parts of the Russian economy -- for example, military equipment.

"They could also up diplomatic pressure. It's been limp, frankly, so far. There's so much more that could be done in terms of putting pressure on the Russians to back down."

Wael Aleji, a spokesman for the Syrian Network for Human Rights, said: "The UK can step up efforts and push for a UN General Assembly resolution to override the Russian and Chinese veto at the UN Security Council."

French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault on Saturday asked the Security Council to condemn the use of chemical weapons in Syria, and urged that those behind the attacks be placed under sanctions.

The United States, Britain and France have repeatedly called for sanctions, particularly against the Syrian regime, over the use of chemical weapons.