U.N. ‘horrified’ by attacks on Syrian civilians

He was 'particularly appalled' by reports of civilian deaths in Sunday's air strikes on the rebel-held town of Douma

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The U.N.'s humanitarian chief fiercely condemned attacks against civilians in Syria at a press conference in Damascus on Monday, a day after one of the bloodiest government raids in the four-year war.

"I am horrified by the total disrespect for civilian life in this conflict," Stephen O'Brien said in a statement.

He said he was "particularly appalled" by reports of civilian deaths in Sunday's air strikes on the rebel-held town of Douma, and said attacks on civilians "must stop".

At least 96 people were killed on Sunday in 10 government raids on Douma, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

O'Brien's press conference concluded his three-day visit to Damascus, his first to the war-torn country since his appointment in May.

In a statement released by the U.N.'s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, O'Brien appealed "to each and every party to this protracted conflict to protect civilians and respect international humanitarian law."

The statement said O'Brien had discussed strengthening the U.N.'s humanitarian operations with Syrian officials, but remained "concerned" about 4.6 million Syrians stuck in hard-to-reach and besieged zones.

The U.S. also waded in on Monday, condemning the Syrian government air strikes and reiterating that President Bashar al-Assad must go.

"Yesterday's air strikes, following its other recent market bombings and attacks on medical facilities, demonstrate the regime's disregard for human life," State Department spokesman John Kirby said in a statement.

At least four million Syrians have been forced to flee the country, and millions of others are internally displaced.

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