Syrian army retakes Eastren Ghouta areas in counter-terrorism campaign

01 March, 2018, 02:38 | Author: Gregory Stephens
  • United States Permanent Representative and cabinet member Nikki Haley votes in the United Nations Security Council on Feb. 24 2018 for a resolution demanding a ceasefire in Syria

Russian Federation demands that the United States stop its threats against the Syrian government, Russia's UN envoy, Vasily Nebenzya, said after the UN Security Council voted to adopt a ceasefire resolution.

Calls for a quick implementation of the truce came amid reports by the British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights that warplanes had hit eastern Ghouta in Syria, killing at least 22 people and wounding dozens, minutes after the Security Council adopted the resolution.

The latest escalation by Damascus and its allies has killed more than 500 people in the enclave over the last week, the Observatory said.

However, the resolution made one notable exception to the ceasefire: It allowed continued action against the Islamic State, Al-Qaeda, A1-Nusra Front and other terrorist organisations.

That would allow the Syrian government offensive to continue against Al-Qaeda-linked jihadists in Idlib, the last province in Syria outside the control of Damascus.

Dr. Sakhr al-Dimashqi, a surgeon at a clinic in Ghouta, told The Associated Press that several shells hit some towns in the suburbs, adding that they received six wounded people at the clinic where he works.

Jaish al-Islam, one of the two major Islamist factions in Ghouta, said fierce battles raged on along several front lines of Sunday.

"I know speaking to colleagues inside eastern Ghouta that they are living in constant fear and they are anxious that the next bomb might hit their home and kill their family".

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".


Resolution 2401 also called on the Syrian army to lift its sieges of Eastern Ghouta (suburb of Damascus), Yarmouk, Foua and Kefraya and demanded of all warring parties to allow the rapid humanitarian aid deliveries and medical assistance without hindrance.

But activists said that Damascus, Syria's capital, and the embattled suburb eastern Ghouta appeared relatively calm.

Language specifying that the ceasefire would start 72 hours after adoption was scrapped, replaced by "without delay", and the term "immediate" was dropped in reference to aid deliveries and evacuations.

The observatory said the death toll had hit nearly 500, including 165 children and 64 women .

After the United Nations vote the two dominant rebel factions in Ghouta - Failaq al-Rahman and Jaish al-Islam - both committed to implement the truce and facilitate aid access, but also reiterated their right to respond to any attacks on them. Intense fighting has been underway in the area between Turkey's military and Kurdish militias backed by Syrian government forces.

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.

Paramedics tend to the injuries of a Syrian child who was wounded during reported regime bombardment, at a makeshift clinic in the rebel-held town of Douma, in eastern Ghouta on Saturday.

"In these days my thoughts have often been taken up by the beloved and martyred Syria", he said, noting there had been thousands of civilian victims of violence that had not spared even hospitals.

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