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Kerry Scolds Russia Over Civilian Casualties in Syria

LONDON — Secretary of State John Kerry castigated Russia on Thursday for bombing civilian targets, tying Moscow's military actions to the recent suspension of peace talks.

Speaking in London from the sidelines of an international donors conference on Syria, Kerry said Russia has a "responsibility" to abide by the terms of the U.N. resolution that paved the way for the talks.

Image: John Kerry arrives at a London conference entitled 'Supporting Syria & The Region'.
John Kerry arrives at the London conference. JUSTIN TALLIS / AFP - Getty Images

His comments came after U.N. envoy Staffan de Mistura announced late Wednesday that Syria peace talks in Geneva were on hold, saying there was "more work to be done" before they would resume.

Kerry on Thursday reprised a paragraph of the U.N. resolution that calls on all parties to "immediately cease any attacks against civilians... and any indiscriminate use of weapons, including through shelling and aerial bombardment" in his critique of Russia.

"It could not be more clear," he said. "That is an obligation that is not tied to talks. It is an obligation accepted by all parties in the United Nations resolution. Russia voted for that, Russia has a responsibility, as do all parties, to live up to it."

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Kerry added that he had "a robust discussion" with his Russian counterpart, Sergey Lavrov, about how to implement a ceasefire and humanitarian access in Syria.

"Foreign Minister Lavrov and I will talk again … as we further this process and find the way forward to be able to implement this resolution fully," Kerry said.