Syrian airstrikes pound Ghouta despite United Nations ceasefire resolution

EPA-EFE  MOHAMMED BADRA

Russia supported UNSC Resolution 2401 unanimously adopted on Saturday, which urged a ceasefire of at least 30 days across Syria and would allow humanitarian access and urgent medical evacuations, the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

The UN Security Council on Saturday demanded a 30-day truce in Syria as rescuers in the country's eastern Ghouta region pleaded that ongoing bombardments had prevented them from reporting and collecting casualties in what has been some of the deadliest air strikes in the country.

More than 1,000 civilians, including children and women, have been killed since mid-November in attacks by the Syrian regime and its allies including Russian Federation in besieged Eastern Ghouta, according to a U.K-based human rights watchdog.

"In these days, my thoughts have often turned to the beloved and martyred Syria, where war has intensified, especially in Eastern Ghouta", he said, referring to an eastern suburb of the Syrian capital of Damascus where the bombing by government forces has been concentrated.

After Russia asked for the resolution to include other groups "co-operating with them", the final text specifies that operations may continue against "individuals, groups, undertakings and entities" associated with IS, al-Qaeda or other groups designated by the Security Council as terrorists.

Al-Assad brought al-Hassan from the province of Idlib to conduct military operations in Damascus, and it appeared that the brigadier was speaking to the troops about these operations.

The government side appears to be justifying its attacks based on this exclusion, saying it is at war against terrorism.

"We confirm our full commitment to the [UN] resolution ... nevertheless, we reserve the right to defend the civilians of Eastern Ghouta in case of renewed attacks", it said in a statement.

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Russia's United Nations ambassador Vassily Nebenzia said on Thursday that the proposed resolution was "simply unrealistic".

The UN security Council approved a ceasefire resolution for Syria on Saturday night, resulting in a relative calm in besieged areas outside the Syrian capital Damascus.

In some locations, forces of Assad's military clashed with rebels and opposition forces. 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.

The Security Council approved a resolution demanding a 30-day truce to allow aid deliveries and medical evacuations with the support of Syrian ally Russian Federation after a flurry of last-minute negotiations. At least 520 are believed to have died, including more than 100 children, according to the SOHR.

Syria's northern neighbour had previously been a staunch supporter of rebel groups fighting government forces.

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.

Control of Eastern Ghouta is shared between two main factions, while Syria's former Al-Qaeda affiliate is also present.

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