Russia must push Syria to stop strikes, says US

A wounded Syrian boy looks on at a makeshift hospital, following reported Syrian government air strikes on the rebel-held town of Arbin in the eastern Ghouta region on the outskirts of the capital Damascus, on May 9, 2016. (AFP)

The United States urged Russia on Monday to push Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s government to stop air strikes on opposition forces and civilians in the Aleppo and Damascus suburbs.

The appeal came in a phone call from Secretary of State John Kerry to his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov.

“Russia has a special responsibility in this regard to press the regime to end its offensive attacks and strikes that kill civilians, immediately allow relief supplies, as determined solely by the UN, to reach all in need, and to comply completely with the cessation of hostilities,” the department said in a statement reported by AFP.

The United States is concerned about an surge in violence in Syria - by both ISIS and Assad's forces - and said Russia had a special responsibility to press the Syrian leader to end attacks and strikes that kill civilians, said State Department spokesman Mark Toner.

The Syrian government needs to recognize that "if this keeps up, we may be looking at a complete breakdown" of the cessation of hostilities, Toner said. A truce brokered by the United States and Russia in February has been unraveling for weeks.

Washington urged the Assad regime to end its escalating attacks on Aleppo and Daraya, as well as besieging towns and obstructing humanitarian access, the department said.

Meanwhile on Monday, the UN chief condemned ISIS bombings which killed over 148 people in Syria’s two coastal cities of Jableh and Tartus – strongholds of Assad’s regime.

He expressed “great concern of the escalating military activity in many areas in and around Damascus,” according to his spokesman.

(With AFP and Reuters)

Last Update: Wednesday, 20 May 2020 KSA 13:58 - GMT 10:58