Russia hit out on Wednesday at what it said was the use of civilians as human shields by both sides in the more than year-long conflict in Syria.
“It is absolutely unacceptable to use civilians as a human shield,” the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement.
“We urge all Syrian sides, as well as outside players who can influence the opposition, to take energetic steps to end the humanitarian suffering of the Homs residents who have ended up in a blockade.”
The UN estimated in May that some 10,000 people have been killed in Syria since the beginning of a revolt against President Bashar al-Assad in March 2011. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a London-based organization with a network of activists in Syria, revised the death toll to 16,500 on Monday. Of those, some 5,000 were government troops and army defectors, the group said. June had been the bloodiest month of the conflict so far, with around 100 deaths every day, it said.
The UN Security Council has so far failed to find a way to settle the conflict. Russia and China have refused to support any plans for outside interference in Syria.