An injured child receives medical attention on Sunday after air strikes bombed opposition-held Douma, in Eastern Ghouta, Syria.
An injured child receives medical attention on Sunday after air strikes bombed opposition-held Douma, in Eastern Ghouta, Syria. MOHAMMED BADRA

US criticises Russia for civilian deaths in Syrian ceasefire

THE White House has accused Russia of killing Syrian civilians, in one of its most direct condemnations of Moscow's wartime conduct.

Defying a 30-day United Nations ceasefire agreement, Russia went on to "kill innocent civilians under the false auspices of counter-terrorism operations”, the White House said in a statement.

"This is the same combination of lies and indiscriminate force that Russia and the Syrian regime used to isolate and destroy Aleppo in 2016, where thousands of civilians were killed,” the statement said.

A government siege of Eastern Ghouta, near regime-controlled Damascus, has left hundreds dead and spurred urgent pleas from world leaders to avert a massacre.

Russian forces carried out at least 20 daily bombing missions in Damascus and Eastern Ghouta over four days in late February, the White House said.

The White House charged Syria and its allies, including Iran, with perpetrating a "brutal” campaign including chemical weapons attacks and strikes on medical infrastructure.

Donald Trump joined with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron this week in calling on Russia to halt its air offensive.

US officials previously excoriated Russia for stalling the UN effort to broker a ceasefire, with UN ambassador Nikki Haley singling the nation out as she asked "how many more people will die” from inaction.

Moscow has repudiated accounts of the bloodshed as exaggerated, with Russia's UN ambassador Vassily Nebenzia dismissing other nations as having succumbed to a "mass psychosis” created by media. - INM



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