UN backs Syria ceasefire as death toll tops 500

01 March, 2018, 02:35 | Author: Essie Rivera
  • Damaged buildings are seen in the besieged town of Douma Eastern Ghouta Damascus Syria

The United Nations Security Council unanimously called Saturday for a 30-day cease-fire in Syria, with Russian Federation agreeing to the temporary hiatus only after forcing two days of delays that critics said allowed ally Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to pursue a renewed bombing campaign blamed for hundreds of recent deaths in a rebel-controlled area.

Syria's regime carried out new air strikes Sunday on the opposition enclave of Eastern Ghouta, a monitor said, despite a UN Security Council demand for a ceasefire "without delay".

The British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said at least five people were killed in raids on Hammouriyeh, Zamalka, Douma and al-Marj, according to Reuters.

Ja'afari said his government interpreted the resolution as also applying to "Turkish forces in Afrin, and the operations of the anti-ISIL (Islamic State) coalition in Syria".

Turkey, too, said its military operations in another theatre of war in the north of Syria would not be affected by the unanimous Security Council vote demanding the truce to allow for aid access and medical evacuations. But rebel groups have refused.

Russian Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia rejected accusations of foot-dragging, saying that negotiations were needed to arrive at a demand for a ceasefire that was "feasible".

"You can't fight evil with another evil", he said, asking his listeners to join together in a moment of silent prayer.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres issued a statement welcoming the resolution's adoption, stressing his expectation that "the resolution will be immediately implemented and sustained, particularly to ensure the immediate, safe, unimpeded and sustained delivery of humanitarian aid and services, the evacuation of the critically sick and wounded and the alleviation of the suffering of the Syrian people".

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In a statement issued after the United Nations vote, Mr Guterres said: "the resolution will be immediately implemented and sustained, particularly to ensure the immediate, safe, unimpeded and sustained delivery of humanitarian aid and services, the evacuation of the critically sick and wounded and the alleviation of the suffering of the Syrian people".

The UN says almost 400,000 people live in the region, a pocket of satellite towns and farms under government siege for more than four years.

For Donohoe and organisations working on the ground in Syria, the United Nations resolution is welcome news, but they say it needs to be put into concrete actions on the ground.

They have taken part in Syria peace talks in Geneva, which were brokered by the United Nations, and in the Kazakh capital Astana, organised by regime allies Russian Federation and Iran and rebel backer Turkey.

Syria's former al-Qaeda affiliate is present in Eastern Ghouta and Assad's government routinely describes all of its opponents as "terrorists".

There were also reports on Sunday of clashes between regime forces and Jaish al-Islam fighters in the south of eastern Ghouta, according to Rami Abdul Rahman, the head of the Syrian Observatory. The draft resolution wanted the ceasefire to start 72 hours after it was passed.But Russia may want to give Syria more time complete its attacks on East Ghouta, one of the last bastions of the opposition.

Syrian state media said Ghouta factions fired mortars at districts of Damascus on Saturday, including near a school.

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