BERLIN/DAMASCUS (Own report) – Berlin and the EU are seeking to use Syria’s hardships for leverage to gain influence on that country’s political development. Berlin will provide humanitarian aid for the Syrian population, German Foreign Minster Heiko Maas announced at yesterday’s Syria conference in Brussels – aid that is also seen as helpful in preventing a new wave of mass migration to the EU. However, aid for the country’s reconstruction will only be granted, if Damascus makes political concessions, Maas declared. Berlin considers reconstruction aid a promising lever, because Syria, most likely, will not be able to raise the more than €200 billion necessary, and its closest partners, Russia and Iran are low on funds due to the western economic sanctions. Experts warn that, for example, in Raqqa, under the control of Syrian opposition forces and the USA, another insurgency could develop should reconstruction continue to be delayed. A US journalist calls Raqqa’s level of destruction the worst he has ever seen in the Middle East.