UN aid chief 'horrified' by attacks on civilians in Syria

UN aid chief 'horrified' by attacks on civilians in Syria
Syrian walk amid the rubble following air strikes by Syrian government forces on a marketplace in the rebel-held area of Douma, east of the capital Damascus, on August 16, 2015.

DAMASCUS - The UN's humanitarian chief fiercely condemned attacks against civilians in Syria at a press conference in Damascus on Monday, a day after one of the bloodiest government raids in the four-year war.

"I am horrified by the total disrespect for civilian life in this conflict," Stephen O'Brien said in a statement.

He said he was "particularly appalled" by reports of civilian deaths in Sunday's air strikes on the rebel-held town of Douma, and said attacks on civilians "must stop".

At least 96 people were killed on Sunday in 10 government raids on Douma, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

O'Brien's press conference concluded his three-day visit to Damascus, his first to the war-torn country since his appointment in May.

In a statement released by the UN's Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, O'Brien appealed "to each and every party to this protracted conflict to protect civilians and respect international humanitarian law."

The statement said O'Brien had discussed strengthening the UN's humanitarian operations with Syrian officials, but remained "concerned" about 4.6 million Syrians stuck in hard-to-reach and besieged zones.

At least four million Syrians have been forced to flee the country, and millions of others are internally displaced.

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