The United States is calling on Syrian Bashar al-Assad's forces and his ally Russia to put an end to their air strikes and alleged chemical attacks against rebel-held areas.
State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said on February 8 that the United States is "extremely concerned about escalating violence" in Idlib Province, the Eastern Ghouta area near Damascus, and other areas “threatened by ongoing regime and Russian air strikes.”
“We are yet again appalled by the recent reports of the Assad regime’s use of chemical weapons and the escalation of bombings that has resulted in dozens of civilian deaths in the last 48 hours,” the statement said.
It also denounced the "abhorrent attacks on civilian infrastructure, including hospitals," adding, "These attacks must end now"
The Syrian government has been accused of using chemical weapons on a rebel-held town in Idlib earlier this week. Damascus has repeatedly denied using such weapons.
Nauert said Washington is supporting a United Nations call for a monthlong "cessation of violence" in Syria, saying it would allow humanitarian aid and medical care to flow to more than 700 civilians in Eastern Ghouta.
However, Russia's United Nations envoy Vassily Nebenzia dismissed the appeal as "unrealistic," the AFP news agency reported.
Russia has given President Bashar al-Assad's government crucial support throughout Syria's nearly seven-year civil war in which hundreds of thousands of people were killed since it began with a crackdown on pro-democracy protests in 2011. Turkey is backing rebel groups.