Saturday, 15 December, 2018

United Nations unanimously demands 30-day ceasefire across Syria

Rescuers say cannot keep up with air strikes battering Syria's Ghouta Rescuers say cannot keep up with air strikes battering Syria's Ghouta
Melinda Barton | 25 February, 2018, 08:53

Some of the only people braving the threat of more bombardment were medical staff in hospitals still standing and rescuers sifting through the wreckage of leveled buildings.

"At least 416 people have been killed in eastern Ghouta since Sunday night, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights war monitor, with more than 2,100 wounded from the assault by Syria's military and its allies".

U.S. secretary of state Rex Tillerson said in January that some 2,000 USA troops would stay in Syria after the defeat of IS for an indefinite period to counter-balance Iran's influence in the region.

The latest deaths brought to 468 the number of people killed - including 108 children - since the escalation of the bombardment of the besieged area on February 18.

This photo released on Friday, Feb. 23, 2018 by the Syrian anti-government activist group Ghouta Media Center, which has been authenticated based on its contents and other AP reporting, shows smoke rising after Syrian government airstrikes hit Ghouta, suburb of Damascus, Syria.

The U.N. Security Council failed to reach consensus Friday on a draft resolution implementing a 30-day cease-fire across Syria and lift sieges on towns, and said they would reconvene Saturday to vote, Voice of America reported.

The attack has apparently raised the ire of the government, as Eastern Ghouta was supposed to be a de-escalation zone as part of a deal mediated by Russia, Turkey, and Iran.

After a vote was scheduled and delayed three times, the Security Council members were unable to settle on language that could gain Russia's support. Let's do this tonight.

Agencies have reported that more than 400 people were killed in the bombardments in the last week while thousands have been injured.

The Bashar-led Syrian government and its close ally Russian Federation have repeatedly said that the motive of airstrikes is to target militants.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron wrote to Russian president Vladimir Putin to urge him to support the ceasefire, according to German government sources.

In a concession to Russian Federation, the latest draft of the resolution states that operations against Islamic State, al Qaeda, and individuals, groups... associated with the extremist groups will not be included. A previous version simply mentioned the two groups.

Russia's U.N. Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia had said repeatedly that an immediate cease-fire was unrealistic.

"France and Germany call on Russian Federation to shoulder its responsibilities in this regard", they said in a joint statement as Macron and Merkel met other European Union leaders for talks in Brussels.

"Every day we have strikes, destruction". France said failure to act may spell the end of the United Nations itself.

The enclave has been controlled by Islamist and jihadi groups since 2012.

A group of doctors and medical activists, from institutions including Harvard and Johns Hopkins, published an appeal on Friday to end the suffering in Ghouta.

The dire images of civilian victims bleeding to death in understaffed hospitals and the scope of the urban destruction have shocked the world and drawn comparisons with the devastating 2016 battle for Aleppo.

The break in fighting will come at a crucial time for Ghouta's civilians.

The EU as a whole has only played a marginal role in the worldwide diplomacy around the conflict in Syria, where the multi-sided war has killed hundreads of thousands and driven millions from their homes.