Sameer Al-Doumy / AFP / Getty Images

UN aid chief slams 'horrifying' disregard of civilian life in Syria

New UN aid chief 'appalled' by reported attack on market in Damascus suburb that killed at least 110 civilians

The United Nations humanitarian chief has condemned attacks against civilians in Syria, a day after more than 100 people were killed in what activists said were regime air raids on the rebel-held suburb of Douma, near Damascus.

New U.N. aid chief Stephen O'Brien's comments came as sources told Al Jazeera that even more air strikes were carried out on Douma on Monday.

"I am horrified by the total disrespect for civilian life in this conflict," O'Brien said, a day after one of the bloodiest incidents in the four-year war.

O'Brien said he was "particularly appalled" by reports about Sunday's airstrikes on Douma that reportedly killed at least 110 civilians, and said those attacks "must stop.”

Syrian opposition activists have called those airstrikes a "massacre.” In one makeshift clinic in Douma, whole sections of floor were covered with rows of the dead, as volunteers worked to wrap each victim in a white shroud.

"I appeal to each and every party to this protracted conflict to protect civilians and respect international humanitarian law," O’Brien said.

He noted that the U.N. and other partners are providing assistance to millions of Syrians in need, including by crossing conflict lines and international borders. However, O'Brien said, "I remain extremely concerned for the welfares of the 4.6 million people stuck in hard-to-reach and besieged areas."

O'Brien also lambasted armed groups for cutting off water in Damascus, saying: "It is unacceptable for those engaged in conflict to use access to water and other services as a weapon of war."

Water cuts have been used in the conflict by rival groups in the conflict and the most affected areas have been Damascus and the northern city of Aleppo, Syria's largest city and former commercial center.

Meanwhile, O'Brien met Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Muallem and expressed a willingness to work with the government to alleviate humanitarian suffering, state media said.

On Monday morning, Syria's air force reportedly launched three more airstrikes on Douma. Other areas of the Damascus countryside like Ghouta were also reportedly targeted.

There were no immediate reports of casualties in the latest strikes.

The Syrian government has been trying to push back against rebel-held territories, in order to protect the capital Damascus.

At least 300 other people were also injured in the strikes on Sunday, with the death toll likely to rise as many of the wounded were in a serious condition, the U.K.-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

Firas Abdullah, a local photographer in Douma, told Al Jazeera that the market was the main meeting place in Douma.

"The market has always been crowded with people buying and selling to make a living,” he said.

The attack on the market is the second in a week. On Wednesday, airstrikes on the area left at least 27 people dead, Abdullah said.

A video posted online by activists of the aftermath of the attacks showed an intersection strewn with rubble and twisted metal.

The fronts of several buildings nearby appeared to have been sheared off by the force of the blasts, and several vehicles were overturned and crumpled amid the rubble.

Meanwhile, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif held talks in Moscow on Monday to discuss the way forward on the stalled Syria peace talks. Both Lavrov and Zarif said that there should be no preconditions for the resumption of talks.

Syrian opposition leaders and their foreign backers have insisted that President Bashar al-Assad should not have any role in a future government, something that the Assad government had rejected.

Syria's conflict has killed more than 250,000 people and wounded at least a million.

Al Jazeera and The Associated Press

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