WASHINGTON, 6th May, 2016 (WAM)–The United States has slammed Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s statement that his goal is a final victory over the city of Aleppo, and urged Russia to exert its influence over Damascus to ensure a cessation of hostilities continues in the city.

“We call on Russia to urgently address this totally unacceptable statement,” State Department spokesman Mark Toner told a briefing on Thursday. “It’s clearly an effort by Assad to push his agenda, but it is incumbent on Russia to assert influence on that regime to maintain the cessation of hostilities.”

“We stand by our statement that the (cessation of hostilities) went into effect May 4 at 00:01 Damascus time. As to why the regime said otherwise, you’ll have to ask them. There may have been coordination issues on the ground. I don’t have any other clear explanation than that,” Toner said.

He added, “The most important issue is that they comply and it appears that, at least today, there is a decrease in the level of violence.”