Syrian Residents In Ghouta Await Death As Bombings Continue

Russian Federation - a key ally of the Syrian government - on Monday announced a "humanitarian pause" of a few hours a day in the bombardment of the rebel-held enclave near Damascus, but residents have rejected the offer of safe passage and aid convoys have not entered.

"The five-hour daily truce and the imposition of a so-called humanitarian corridor proposed by the Russian President is not good enough", Save the Children's Syria Response Director said on Tuesday.

In a terse assessment, United Nations humanitarian chief Mark Lowcock responded with a simple "No" almost a dozen times to council questions about whether the resolution had been implemented.

Despite the step, the United Nations demanded that all sides must implement the total truce approved on Saturday, and said some 40 trucks loaded with aid were waiting for the violence to stop.

Bozdag said the Turkish operations have not interrupted humanitarian aid and civilians have not been harmed in Afrin.

"Russia does not get to unilaterally rewrite the terms of the resolution they negotiated and they sat here and voted for", she said. "More bombing. More fighting". Under the aegis of air strikes, the Syrian army took ground military action in the knot called the last stronghold of the rebels.

Before the meeting began, French ambassador Francois Delattre recalled that the rebels in Ghouta had said Tuesday they were ready to observe a ceasefire, but the Syrian regime has given no sign it is ready to do the same.

"Medical and other essential services are absent and access for humanitarian workers to the city remains precariously limited because the conditions are so risky", Lowcock said.

Kelley Currie, the USA ambassador for economic and social affairs, called a five-hour pause "cynical, callous, and in flagrant defiance of the demands" for a cessation of hostilities "for at least 30 days - every day, all day".

Opposition activists said Wednesday's five-hour pause in eastern Ghouta was preceded by a barrage of airstrikes in the towns of Harasta and Douma, where Syrian troops and allied militia trying to push ahead with a ground offensive on a number of fronts from the east and west clashed with insurgent groups.

Syrian Arab Republic Ambassador to the United Nations Bashar al-Jaafari speaks with China's Ambassador to the U.N. Ma Zhaoxu before the start of a U.N. Security Council meeting on Syria at U.N. headquarters in NY, on February 22.

Affected volunteers receive treatment after a gas attack on al-Shifunieh village, in Eastern Ghouta. The militants fired on civilians, attempting to flee Eastern Ghouta, controlled by armed groups, spokesman of the Russian center for reconciliation of the opposing parties Major-General Vladimir Zolotukhin told reporters on Thursday.

"Russia is daily undertaking efforts to ensure a cessation of hostilities, for humanitarian pauses to be established, to alleviate the plight of suffering civilians", he told council members.

Both Russia and Syria charge that the region, under siege for the past three years, is occupied by "terrorists" and attacks have continued.

The officer at Wafideen checkpoint warned that if Thursday was equally fruitless, the measure may be dropped, raising fears the kind of bombardment that killed dozens of civilians every day this month would resume.

  • Joey Payne