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US irked by Assad’s call for Aleppo victory

The United States has vented anger over the Syrian leader’s emphasis on victory against militants in the city of Aleppo and countrywide, urging Russia to curb Damascus.

On Thursday, US State Department spokesman Mark Toner demonstrated Washington’s ire over Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s recent statement, saying, “Again, this is someone who carried out airstrikes on a hospital last week, a pediatric hospital and has carried out unspeakable brutalities against the Syrian people. We call on Russia to urgently address this totally unacceptable statement and, you know, this is clearly an effort by Assad to push his agenda. But it’s incumbent on Russia to exert influence on that regime, or on the regime, rather, to maintain the cessation of hostilities.”

Toner was reiterating US accusations that the Syrian government carried out last week’s deadly attack on the al-Quds hospital in Aleppo’s neighborhood of Sukkari, where dozens were killed.

Russia and Syria rejected allegations that their warplanes had targeted the hospital in the northwestern Syrian city, with Moscow suggesting that the US-led coalition was instead responsible for the incident.

Washington’s latest show of outrage comes after Assad said on Thursday that his country will accept nothing less than “final victory” over foreign-backed militants and terrorists in Syria.

In a telegram sent to Russian President Vladimir Putin, Assad said the Syrian army would not accept anything less than “attaining final victory” and “crushing the aggression” in its fight against militants in the city of Aleppo and elsewhere in the country.

Aleppo has been the scene of a “regime of calm” brokered by Russia and the United States since early on Thursday. It has been divided between government forces in the west and militants in the east since 2012, a year after the conflict broke out in Syria.

The 48-hour ceasefire took hold in the city on Thursday, with residents returning to the streets as fighting subsided.

Syria has been gripped by foreign-backed militancy since March 2011. The United Nations special envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura estimates that over 400,000 people have been killed in the conflict, which has also displaced over half of the Arab country’s pre-war population of about 23 million.


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