UNITED NATIONS (AFP) - UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Monday condemned bombings claimed by ISIS (Islamic State in Iraq and Syria) in two Syrian coastal cities and voiced concern about the military escalation in and around Damascus.
More than 148 people were killed in the bomb blasts at bus stations, hospitals and a power station in the cities of Jableh and Tartus, two strongholds of President Bashar al-Assad's regime.
Ban "condemns the terrorist attacks today that claimed the lives of dozens of civilians in the Syrian coastal cities of Jableh and Tartus," said his spokesman Stephane Dujarric.
He expressed "great concern" over the escalating military activity in and around Damascus, particularly in Daraya, Aleppo and Idlib and in northern Homs, especially Al-Houla, he added.
Fourteen civilians - four of them children - were killed when a barrage of barrel bombs hit the town of Al-Houla and neighbouring villages last week, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
Barrel bombs are indiscriminate weapons typically dropped from helicopters. Their use in Syria's war has come under fierce criticism by rights groups but the regime denies using them.
Ban renewed his call to all warring factions to spare civilians and said those responsible for such attacks must face justice.
US Secretary of State John Kerry spoke by phone with his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov to urge him to press the Damascus regime to halt its attacks on Aleppo and Daraya, the US State Department said.
"Russia has a special responsibility in this regard to press the regime to end its offensive attacks and strikes that kill civilians, immediately allow relief supplies (...) and to comply completely with the cessation of hostilities," said spokesman Mark Toner in Washington.
The United States strongly condemned the attacks in Jableh and Tartus and vowed to continue its military campaign against ISIS extremists in Syria and Iraq.