Assad's troops mass on edge of Ghouta despite ceasefire

The continuation of violence comes as a massive disappointment to the UN.

The UN security Council approved a ceasefire resolution for Syria on Saturday night, resulting in a relative calm in besieged areas outside the Syrian capital Damascus.

The US, Britain and other countries accused Moscow of deliberate time wasting so as to allow Mr Assad the opportunity to complete the reconquest of eastern Ghouta - a charge refuted by Russian Federation.

To win Russia's approval, 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.

Russian Federation has been a main backer of Syrian President Bashar Assad since the country's conflict began seven years ago.

Macron and Merkel on February 23 had urged Putin to support the proposal for a cease-fire.

New regime strikes hit the rebel enclave of Eastern Ghouta on Sunday despite a United Nations Security Council demand for a ceasefire to end one of the most ferocious assaults of Syria's civil war.

The Observatory said that since the latest wave of bombardment began on Sunday, 510 civilians, including 127 children and 75 women, have been killed in eastern Ghouta.

Syrian UN Ambassador Bashar Ja'afari stated that his government interpreted the resolution as also applying to "Turkish forces in Afrin, and the operations of the anti-ISIL (Islamic State) coalition in Syria".

The Syrian government says that actions in Eastern Ghouta are aimed at targeting "terrorists". "Efforts to combat terrorism do not supersede these obligation", he said.


The number of casualties, if any, has not been mentioned.

The two major Islamist factions in Ghouta said they waged fierce battles on Sunday on several fronts around the enclave, where troops and rebels have clashed in recent weeks.

"The U.N. convoys and evacuation teams are ready to go", Sweden's U.N. Ambassador Olof Skoog told the council just before the vote. There is no agreement over when the ceasefire will take effect.

After two days of delays and several postponements, Russian Federation and the three western permanent members - Britain, France and the United States - agreed on Saturday, on the final version negotiated by Kuwait and Sweden with the backing of the P10.

Nebenzya has repeatedly argued that an immediate cease-fire was unrealistic. Moscow helped turn the tide of the conflict in Assad's favor by a launching a campaign of air strikes in 2015 and stepping up its military presence on the ground.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, who has described Eastern Ghouta as "hell on Earth", said the ceasefire must be "immediately" implemented.

The dead include more than 120 children.

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

Hospitals also have been hit, and the pleas coming from some of the 400,000 residents of the area have grown increasingly desperate in the face of what United Nations officials describe as a medieval siege.


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