Putin says Russian Federation evacuated civilian group from Syria's Ghouta

Posted March 04, 2018

The U.N. unanimously approved a resolution on Saturday calling for a 30-day ceasefire.

The air strikes and clashes that killed 600 civilians in 10 days have reduced since the Kremlin announced five-hour halts in the bombardment.

The main armed groups in eastern Ghouta sent a letter to the U.N. Security Council on Tuesday saying they were ready to abide by the cease-fire and guarantee protection for aid convoys to their areas.

On February 28, the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said government forces and allied militias, backed by intense shelling and rocket bombardment, advanced on the enclave overnight.

Kelley Currie, the U.S. 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".

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Syrian government forces have been pounding terrorist positions in the area to retake it and free a large number of civilians who are trapped there and struggle with malnutrition and lack of basic medical supplies.

A senior Western diplomat said Russian Federation appeared intent on a repeat of Aleppo in eastern Ghouta by evacuating the area and then killing "the terrorists even if it's not just Nusra", a reference to a jihadist group with Al-Qaida links.

Unlike Russia, Syria and mutual ally Iran, Western powers have mostly blamed the growing humanitarian crisis in eastern Ghouta on pro-Syrian government forces.

At the same time, rebel groups have been known to use the blockade on humanitarian access for their own political or financial gain, Lund said.

The United Nations satellite agency said Thursday that an analysis of images showed widespread new damage in the opposition-held eastern suburbs of Damascus. Russian and Syrian aircraft have assisted Syrian troops and various Iran-backed militias in an attempt to reclaim the area for Assad, but the campaign has attracted growing criticism from Western powers such as the USA, which once backed some of the rebel groups battling the Syrian government. He noted that the militants have regularly shelled Damascus, and many rounds landed near the Russian Embassy.

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Residents said they do not trust the truce, while the United Nations and aid agencies criticised the unilateral arrangement, saying it gives no guarantees of safety for people wishing to leave. Should we continue to tolerate this?

An official with one of the rebel groups in eastern Ghouta said fighters were battling to repel an attempted incursion, and characterized the battle as "back and forth". "No, of course not", he said.

The U.N. humanitarian chief said Wednesday that a 30-day cease-fire across Syria had not been implemented, and he asked the Security Council when it would be put into effect.

"When will your resolution be implemented?"

State-run Syrian Arab News Agency, or SANA, said Thursday that a civilian was wounded by a mortar shell fired by the insurgents in eastern Ghouta at the Bab al-Salam area in the old city of Damascus.

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