In the past one week, Syrian government forces killed 500 civilians in a series of airstrikes and bombings in Eastern Ghouta, a rebel enclave near Damascus, as reported by BBC. The victims include 121 children, says the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a UK-based group monitoring the conflict.
Residents have taken refuge in basements. Some hospitals are functioning from basements because to save themselves from the constant bombing. According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, on Monday alone 127 civilians were killed.
Sources said that both Russian and Syrian planes were used for the airstrikes. Although, Russia has denied any direct involvement.
On Saturday, February 24, the UN Security Council unanimously approved a resolution demanding a 30-day ceasefire in Syria to allow aid deliveries and medical evacuations, reported BBC.
The draft in which the ceasefire was signed said the ceasefire would not include certain groups such as Islamic State (ISIS), Al-Qaeda, Nusra Front – i.e., the groups considered as terrorist organisations. Local rebel groups also fall under terrorist organisations.
After Russia asked for the resolution to include other groups “co-operating with them”, the final text specifies that operations may continue against “individuals, groups, undertakings and entities” associated with IS, Al-Qaeda or other groups designated by the Security Council as terrorists.
Even though the ceasefire resolution was passed on Saturday, bombings did not stop. On Sunday, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron called Russia’s President Vladimir Putin and pressured him to implement the ceasefire resolution.
The strikes targeted the outskirts of Douma, the main town in the Eastern Ghouta, according to the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR). It also reported several casualties on both sides after Syrian government forces clashed with rebels in southern areas of the enclave, reported by BBC.
Both opposition and pro-government forces said that the government forces were slowly advancing towards entering Eastern Ghouta.
At the same time, Iran said that they will adhere to the ceasefire, but they will continue their operations in the areas that are specifically controlled by terrorist organisations.
Smells of chemical attack
The Syrian American Medical Society, a relief organisation told the BBC that there were certain victims with symptoms of a chemical attack. One child died of the said symptoms. Eastern Ghouta resident Mohammed Adel said one of his colleagues had visited the hospital and said the child – a boy – had “suffocated from the chemical attack”, reported BBC.
Although, this has not been confirmed yet. However, a UN report last October concluded that the Syrian government was responsible for a deadly chemical attack in the north-western town of Khan Sheikhoun on 4 April 2017. Syrian Government however, denied all allegations.
The situation in Eastern Ghouta
Reports suggest the 48-hour death toll in Syria is highest since 2013. UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has said the situation in the Eastern Ghouta is like “hell on Earth”.
Pope Francis has called the situation “inhumane” and has urged for immediate humanitarian aid. The Syrian Government says that they ar4e not targeting civilians, but last Monday itself 127 people were killed in the airstrikes. UN has warned that the situation has spiralled out of control.
The Logical Indian deeply sympathises with the people who are stuck in Eastern Ghouta and hopes that the government implements the ceasefire resolution. It has been seven years, many world leaders have sought for peace, millions of civilians including children have lost their lives but peace seems like a far-fetched dream.