In spite of UN call, Russian truce, Assad attacks E. Ghouta


In Eastern Ghouta, Syria, regime artillery shells kill 5 civilians, injure scores of others, say civil defense sources

Flouting international cease-fire efforts, the Assad regime on Tuesday fired artillery shells into Syria’s besieged Eastern Ghouta enclave, killing at least five civilians, according to the Syrian White Helmets civil defense group.

The Assad regime launched shells into Eastern Ghouta’s Douma, Bayt Sava, Cisrin and al-Marj regions at around 10.30 a.m. (0730GMT).

It also carried out airstrikes in the Kafr Batna, Douma, Semelka, Hawsh al-Zawahra, and Misraba regions at about the same time.

Two civilians were killed in Douma, along with two others in Cisrin, and another in Misraba.

The UN Security Council on Saturday passed a resolution calling for a 30-day cease-fire in Syria “without delay.”

“All parties [should] cease hostilities without delay and commit to ensuring a durable humanitarian pause for at least 30 consecutive days throughout Syria to enable the safe, unimpeded and sustained delivery of humanitarian aid and services and medical evacuations of the critically sick and wounded in accordance with applicable international law,” said the resolution.

On Monday, Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu said Russia would introduce a daily “humanitarian pause” in eastern Ghouta as of Feb. 27 by order of President Vladimir Putin.

A humanitarian corridor will be open for civilians to exit the region every day from 9 am till 2 pm (0600-1100GMT), said Shoigu.

Maj. Gen. Yuri Yevtushenko, the head of Russian Center for Reconciliation of opposition parties in Syria, also said the humanitarian pause would apply to the regime.


– Five-year siege


UN Office for the coordination of Humanitarian Affairs spokesperson (OCHA) Jens Laerke also said the Assad regime bombing of Eastern Ghouta continues despite the UN resolution and Russia’s humanitarian pause.

Speaking to reporters, Laerke called on all parties to implement the cease-fire immediately.

He added that humanitarian aid convoys would be dispatched to some parts of Eastern Ghouta whenever circumstances allow.

Eastern Ghouta, a Damascus suburb, has been under siege for the last five years and humanitarian access to the area, which is home to some 400,000 people, has been completely cut off.

In the past eight months, Assad regime forces have intensified their siege of Eastern Ghouta, making it nearly impossible for food or medicine to get into the district, and leaving thousands of patients in need of treatment.

Since Feb. 19, escalating hostilities have resulted in 500 deaths and some 1,500 injuries in Eastern Ghouta, with 24 health facilities impacted by shelling and airstrikes, according to UN officials.

Syria has been locked in a devastating conflict since early 2011 when the regime cracked down on demonstrators with unexpected ferocity.

According to UN officials, hundreds of thousands of people have been killed in the conflict to date.


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