File photo of Syria President Bashar al-Assad. (Photo: Reuters)
The United States expressed outrage Thursday over an air strike on a hospital in the Syrian city of Aleppo and demanded that Russia restrain Bashar al-Assad's regime.
Secretary of State John Kerry said the strike matched a pattern of Syrian government attacks targeting health workers that he said have left hundreds dead.
And he called on Moscow to press its ally in Damascus to respect a cessation of hostilities between regime and rebel forces that has been enshrined in a UN Security Council resolution.
"We are outraged by yesterday's air strikes in Aleppo on the al-Quds hospital supported by both Doctors Without Borders and the International Committee of the Red Cross, which killed dozens of people, including children, patients, and medical personnel," Kerry said.
"While we are still trying to gather the facts surrounding the circumstances of this attack, it appears to have been a deliberate strike on a known medical facility and follows the Assad regime's appalling record of striking such facilities and first responders.
"These strikes have killed hundreds of innocent Syrians," he added.
"The United Nations today assessed the situation in Aleppo to be catastrophic, and the regime's most recent offensive actions there -- despite the cessation of hostilities -- compound the violence and undermine the cessation of hostilities.
"Russia has an urgent responsibility to press the regime to fulfill its commitments under UNSCR 2254, including in particular to stop attacking civilians, medical facilities, and first responders, and to abide fully by the cessation of hostilities."
The United States and Russia are co-chairs of the International Syria Support Group, a 17-nation body formed to promote an end to Syria's five-year-old civil war through a ceasefire and peace negotiations.
But a two-month-old ceasefire is already in tatters and Assad's government appears to be readying an assault on the divided city of Aleppo following a series of strikes -- some of which, US officials allege, were supported by Russian war planes.