US strongly condemns “horrific” IS-claimed blasts in Syria

WASHINGTON, May 23 (KUNA) — The US on Monday strongly condemned as “horrific” bombings in two areas in Syria claimed by the so-called Islamic State (IS) group which killed and injured over 60 civilians.
“We will continue to lead the global coalition to degrade and defeat Daesh (IS) so that it can no longer brutalize those who reject its tormented worldview,” read a State Department statement quoting spokesman Mark Toner.
The actions of the “Al-Assad dictatorship” have helped IS gather support, he said, after multiple blasts targeted bus stations and a hospital in the towns of Jablah in the northwest province of Latakia, and the port city of Tartus.
Toner called on the Al-Assad regime to stop its escalating attacks on Aleppo and Daraya, and its besiegement of towns and obstruction of humanitarian access.
“These actions demonstrate a disregard for the Cessation of Hostilities, UN Security Council Resolution 2254, and efforts to advance a political solution to the conflict, as well as its own commitments to facilitate full access for humanitarian relief supplies,” he said.
He said these concerns were raised by State Secretary John Kerry in a call with Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov earlier on Monday.
Kerry urged the Russians to press the regime to cease at once airstrikes against opposition forces and innocent civilians in Aleppo and the Damascus suburbs, he said.
Russia has a “special responsibility” in this regard. he said, “to press the regime to end its offensive attacks and strikes that kill civilians, (and) immediately allow relief supplies.” He added that “such a solution will allow all parties to focus on the shared threat posed by Daesh and other terrorists.” In a later press briefing, Toner rejected any talk of joint operations between the US-led coalition and Russia, he said that the two have been discussing proposals for sustainable mechanisms to “better monitor and enforce the cessation of hostilities.” Explaining, he said certain opposition groups were “commingling” or affiliating themselves with groups that continually violated the Cessation of Hostilities – such as Jabhat Al-Nusra.
“They run the risk of being excluded from the protection provided by that (Cessation of Hostlities),” he said.
It is “absolutely vital” that they separate themselves so that we can clearly delineate, you know, where Nusra is and where the credible opposition is,” he said.
Toner described this as an “ongoing commitment” of the US. “It’s incumbent on us to exert that kind of influence on the opposition groups on the ground.” Meanwhile, Toner said the Syrian regime was trying to gain a “tactical advantage” by attacking civilians, describing this as “frankly barbaric.” He also said the regime was repeatedly launching attacks on supply lines and other tactical pieces that belong to the moderate opposition in order to gain a strategic advantage on the ground. (end) sd.bs

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