World Middle East 29 Apr 2016 Syrian government so ...

Syrian government solely behind Aleppo hospital strike: United States

REUTERS | DECCAN CHRONICLE
Published Apr 29, 2016, 11:33 am IST
Updated Apr 29, 2016, 11:33 am IST
A Syrian monitoring group and a first-responders team say new airstrikes on the rebel-held part of the contested city of Aleppo have killed over a dozen people and brought down at least one residential building. (Photo: AP)
 A Syrian monitoring group and a first-responders team say new airstrikes on the rebel-held part of the contested city of Aleppo have killed over a dozen people and brought down at least one residential building. (Photo: AP)

Aleppo: Indications are that Syria's government was solely responsible for an air strike on a hospital in Aleppo, the US State Department said on Thursday, urging Russia to use its influence to pressure Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to stop the attacks.

State Department spokesman John Kirby said Washington was still learning more about the attack on Wednesday night that killed children and doctors at the hospital supported by Doctors Without Borders.

"The indications that we have now are that these strikes were conducted solely by the regime," Kirby said. He denied statements by the Russian Defence Ministry that a plane belonging to the US-led coalition was seen over Aleppo on Wednesday evening.

Russia's backing for Syrian government forces has helped swing the war in favour of Assad, although Russia previously denied hitting civilian targets in Syria where it launched air raids late in 2015 to bolster its ally. Asked whether the strikes on the hospital were conducted with the backing of Russian forces, Kirby added, "Not from any measure that we can tell at this point."

But he said Moscow still wielded influence over Assad. "We're not at the point where we'd say they don't have influence over Assad," Kirby said, adding: "What's curious and what we'd like to know more is to what degree are they actually assertively, aggressively using that influence right now because on the face of it, it would appear that influence isn't being asserted as energetically as we believe it could be."

The city of Aleppo has been at the epicentre of a military escalation undermining peace talks in Geneva to end the five-year-old war. UN envoy Staffan de Mistura appealed to the presidents of the United States (US) and Russia to intervene. Kirby said the Syrian cessation of hostilities was "very much in peril" because of the violations and urged Moscow to use its influence over Assad to halt the attacks.

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