Beirut (AFP) - Syria's opposition chief Thursday said the international community should press Damascus to respect a nationwide ceasefire in order to avoid a full-scale regime military operation around second city Aleppo.
"Without consequences for the regime's and Russia's repeated violations, there is nothing to stop them from launching a full-scale military operation in Aleppo when they feel under pressure to compromise on a political transition," said Riad Hijab, head of the High Negotiations Committee.
"The international community must impose robust measures and increased pressure against those who commit violations of the cessation -- only then is there a chance that it will be respected and sustained," he told AFP in an email.
Russia and the US were joint sponsors of a February 27 nationwide ceasefire deal between the regime and rebels, which excludes the Islamic State group and Syria's Al-Qaeda affiliate Al-Nusra Front.
That truce has been severely tested by violence in and around the northern city of Aleppo in the past weeks.
More than 280 civilians were reported killed in the city since April 22, with regime air strikes on its opposition-held east and rebel shelling and rocket fire into the government-controlled west.
Damascus has said it was targeting Al-Nusra in Aleppo and blamed the jihadists for violating the truce, a claim Hijab rejected.
"The Nusra presence in Aleppo is minimal, and it is by no means a significant force there," he said.
"They claim they are hitting Nusra, but in reality they are killing women and children."