U.S. President Barack Obama has strongly condemned the "barbarous Russian and Syrian regime airstrikes" on civilians in eastern Aleppo.
The White House says Obama spoke by telephone Thursday with German Chancellor Angela Merkel. Both agreed that Russia and the Assad regime bear a "special responsibility" for stopping the fighting and letting humanitarian aid get in.
Secretary of State John Kerry said earlier the U.S. is "on the verge" of suspending diplomatic talks with Russia because of Moscow's continued bombing of rebels in eastern Aleppo.
A monitoring group said Friday Russian airstrikes across the country in the past year have killed more than 9,000 people, including many civilians. The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said many more civilians were wounded by the airstrikes.
In Aleppo itself, hundreds of thousands of civilians are stuck in the city. Half of them are children.
Kerry called it “irrational” to keep talking and “take things seriously” after the Russians vowed to continue the airstrikes.
“It’s one of those moments where we’re going to have to pursue other alternatives for a period of time,” said Kerry. He added he is “extremely concerned” about the future of the Syrian people.
Kerry's spokesman told reporters the State Department is in "active" contact with the Kremlin, but are still prepared to step away "barring some significant steps by Russia."
"We are still prepared to enact that kind of a suspension and we're in consultations right now inside our own government, and of course, with Foreign Minister Lavrov,” John Kirby said Thursday.
Washington has pressed Moscow to use its influence to pressure Bashar al-Assad to honor a cessation of hostilities agreement and allow the flow of humanitarian aid to Aleppo and around Syria.