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France: Russia, Iran must do all to stop "unacceptable attacks" in Syria

A still image, taken from video footage and released by Russia's Defence Ministry showing a bomber flying over Syria. File photo

(Reuters) - Russia and Iran must do all they can to stop air strikes targeting civilians in Syria and reach a definitive cessation of hostilities, France said on Tuesday after at least 61 people were killed in the bombing of an outdoor market.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights war monitoring group reported three air strikes hit the rebel-held town of Atareb in west of Aleppo on Monday.

Jihadist rebels blamed Russian warplanes. Atareb is inside what is known as a "de-escalation" zone under a deal agreed between Turkey, Russia and Iran to reduce violence in the area.

Turkey has backed some rebel groups while Russia and Iran are the Syrian government's main allies.

"France condemns the bombings on 13 November in Atareb, which caused the deaths of dozens of civilians," Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Agnes Romatet-Espagne told reporters in a daily briefing. "We call on the allies of the Damascus regime to do their utmost to stop these unacceptable attacks and to bring about a definitive cessation of hostilities."

Romatet-Espagne also said that an humanitarian aid convoy that had reached the besieged rebel enclave of eastern Ghouta on Sunday was not enough and indicated that Moscow should do more.

U.N. humanitarian adviser Jan Egeland said last week that the area of some 400,000 civilians faces "complete catastrophe" because aid deliveries are blocked, and hundreds of people need urgent medical evacuation.

"The safe, comprehensive, unconditional and unhindered delivery of humanitarian assistance to all civilian populations in need is an absolute necessity," Romatet-Espagne said. "It is the most demanding requirement in the discussions we have with our partners, especially Russia. Deliveries that may have taken place are clearly insufficient."