April 30, 2016 / 11:22 PM / a year ago

U.S. says working on 'specific initiatives' to de-escalate Syrian violence

People inspect the damage at the Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF)-backed al-Quds hospital after it was hit by airstrikes, in a rebel-held area of Syria's Aleppo, April 28, 2016.Abdalrhman Ismail

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States is working on "specific initiatives" to reduce the violence in Syria and sees stopping the bloodshed in Aleppo as a top priority, a U.S. State Department spokesman said on Saturday.

In a statement detailing calls Secretary of State John Kerry has made over the past two days with UN Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura and with Riyad Hijab, a negotiator for Syrian opposition groups, State Department spokesman John Kirby said Kerry had made clear the United States wanted Russia to apply pressure to the Assad government to get it to stop "indiscriminate aerial attacks" in Aleppo.

"In both calls, the secretary underscored that the initial efforts to reaffirm the cessation of hostilities in Latakia and Eastern Ghouta are not limited to these two areas and that efforts to renew the cessation must and do include Aleppo," Kirby said.

Reporting by Timothy Ahmann; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama

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