White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders on Sunday criticized Russia and Iran over the deteriorating conditions in Syria, where people in a enclave near Damascus are caught up in a struggle between rebels and government forces.
"The United States condemns the ongoing military offensive that the Assad regime, backed by Russia and Iran, is perpetrating against the people of Eastern Ghouta," Sanders said in a statement.
President Donald Trump and British Prime Minister Theresa May spoke about the situation on Sunday, May's office said, adding that the two leaders agreed the situation is a "humanitarian catastrophe" for which blame rests with Syria and Russia.
"They agreed that Russia and others with influence over the Syrian regime must act now to cease their campaign of violence and to protect civilians," the British readout said.
According to a Reuters report, Eastern Ghouta is one of the few rebel-controlled areas remaining as the nation's brutal civil war drags on. Russia is the primary backer of Syrian President Bashar Assad. The U.S. has backed military forces in the country, but their primary purpose is to fight the Islamic State. On rare occasions, U.S.-led forces have fought Assad-backed fighters in self defense.
Sanders mentioned a United Nations Security Council resolution from late last month, which passed unanimously and called for a ceasefire across Syria for humanitarian aid and medical evacuations.
"Russia has gone on to ignore its terms and to kill innocent civilians under the false auspices of counterterrorism operations," Sanders said. "This is the same combination of lies and indiscriminate force that Russia and the Syrian regime used to isolate and destroy Aleppo in 2016, where thousands of civilians were killed."