Published: Sat, March 03, 2018

Syria's Ghouta enclave death toll tops 600, monitor says

Syria's Ghouta enclave death toll tops 600, monitor says

His foreign minister Sergei Lavrov said it was up to the rebels "to act" to ensure the brief halts in fighting bring relief for civilians.

Lowcock said the United Nations and its partners were ready with trucks full of humanitarian aid and medical evacuation plans and could begin work once the guns fall silent and access is granted in Syria.

On Saturday, the UN Security Council unanimously adopted a resolution on a 30-day ceasefire in Syria.

Russian Federation has given Assad's government crucial support throughout Syria's seven-year civil war, which began with a government crackdown on peaceful protests.

Mark Lowcock, the United Nations under secretary-general for humanitarian affairs, said there has been no change in the situation around the rebel-held enclave in the Damascus suburbs despite a ceasefire resolution Saturday.

Syria signed up to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) and agreed to the destruction of its declared chemical arms stocks after a Sarin nerve-agent attack killed hundreds of people in rebel-held suburbs of Damascus.

Robert Wood, U.S. ambassador to the Conference on Disarmament, spoke to reporters in Geneva on February 28 following new reports of chlorine gas being used on civilians by Syrian forces, which the government denies. But the first day of a five-hour daily "pause" that was ordered by President Vladimir Putin Monday and kicked off at 9:00 am (0700 GMT) was marred by violence that saw seven people killed.

More than 550 civilians, nearly a quarter of them children, have been killed since strikes escalated on February 18.

In an exemption from the cease-fire, the resolution allows military attacks to continue against extremists from the Islamic State group, al-Qaida and the Nusra Front - targets Syria and Russian Federation as well as US-backed forces say they are pursuing.

No aid was reported to have entered Ghouta. "We shall see in practice whether the pleas by the three illegal armed carry out the UNSC resolution correspond with their intentions", he said. "In order to end the humanitarian catastrophe, all relevant parties should patiently hold consultations, shelve disputes, actively seek consensus and strive to fully implement the cease-fire resolution passed by the U.N. Security Council", the Chinese analysis read. The Observatory said regime forces had made limited advances in Eastern Ghouta's Shaifuniyeh and Hosh al-Zawahira districts. These are one of the deadliest attacks in the long Syrian war between rebels and government forces. He was sharply critical of the West, and especially the United States, for fancying themselves as "champions of humanity" and saying a cease-fire depends nearly entirely on Russian Federation and Syria.

Syria's UN Ambassador Bashar Ja'afari echoed Russia's criticism of the West telling the council "the main responsibility for ceasing hostilities is on groups that have influence on terrorist groups".

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