State Department calls Russian, Syrian airstrikes a 'reckless escalation'

State Department calls Russian, Syrian airstrikes a 'reckless escalation'
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The State Department on Tuesday called recent Russian and Syrian government airstrikes in northwest Syria a “reckless escalation” as Syrian president Bashar Assad seeks to oust rebels from the country’s Idlib province.

“Indiscriminate attacks on civilians and public infrastructure such as schools, markets and hospitals is a reckless escalation of the conflict and is unacceptable,” State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus said.

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“The violence must end,” she added.

Recent government airstrikes, backed by Assad’s allies in Moscow, have uprooted more than 300,000 people and killed 229 civilians, according to the Union of Medical Care and Relief Organizations.

The statement came nearly a week after the State Department said it had seen signs that Assad may have renewed his use of chemical weapons in northwest Syria, warning Damascus of a quick response if such an attack were proved. 

Idlib is home to thousands of anti-government fighters and has been a focal point of clashes as Assad seeks to wipe out any remaining opposition to his government.

Syria's civil war first began in 2011 and has left hundreds of thousands of civilians dead and forced millions of Syrians to flee violence.

Updated at 5:10 p.m.