Russian, regime air strikes continue 'apace' in Syria: US

Washington (AFP) –


Russian and Syrian regime air strikes have not diminished and may have intensified despite an international agreement for a cessation of hostilities in Syria by week's end, the US military said Wednesday.

"Their bombing has continued apace," said US military spokesman Colonel Steve Warren, speaking to reporters from Baghdad. "We have not seen a lessening of intensity. If anything, it has increased."

Warren said the US military has seen stepped-up use of tactical aircraft, launches of shorter-range ballistic missiles, and barrel bombs dropped from the back of Syrian helicopters.

"This reckless disregard for civilian casualties only complicates the situation and prolongs civilian suffering," he said.

Russia agreed at an international meeting in Munich on Friday to bring about a "cessation of hostilities" in Syria and allow humanitarian relief convoys into besieged Syrian cities.

But on Monday five medical facilities and two schools were hit in air strikes in an area near Aleppo in northern Syria that has been the focus of a Russian-backed government offensive.

The United Nations, which denounced the attacks as a "blatant violation of international law," estimated that 50 people were killed.

Russia has denied any responsibility for the attacks, which drew international condemnation.

"What actually happened is that Russian-regime aircraft conducted air strikes in those areas. And those hospitals were hit," Warren said.

"Unclear to us if it was a Russian aircraft, or a Syrian aircraft, or a Russian missile or a Syrian missile," he said. "But what we do know is that there were strikes in the area and we know that hospitals were hit."