UN calls for 30-day ceasefire in Eastern Ghouta

UN calls for 30-day ceasefire in Eastern Ghouta
The UN - with the backing of Russia - has agreed a 30-day ceasefire in Syria's Eastern Ghouta, as regime bombing of the opposition enclave continued.
2 min read
24 February, 2018
The UN has finally agreed a truce for Eastern Ghouta [AFP]

The UN Security Council (UNSC) has called for a 30-day ceasefire in Eastern Ghouta, after Syrian regime-backer Russia finally agreed to a truce.

A resolution issued by the UNSC demanded that the truce be implemented immediately, as regime bombing and shelling of the opposition enclave continued for a seventh day.

The resolution also demands Bashar al-Assad's regime allows access for aid and food to the Damascus suburb, which has been crippled by a siege since 2013, but did not give a deadline for its implementation.

Systematic bombing of Eastern Ghouta has cost over 500 lives since Sunday, while food and medical supplies are running critically low.

In addition to a call for unimpeded aid access to Eastern Ghouta, the resolution also demanded that the sick and injured to be evacuated from the Damascus countryside territories.

A flurry of last-minute negotiations were held to allow the Kuwait-Sweden proposed resolution to be passed.

Previous efforts have been hindered due to Assad regime ally and veto-wielding UNSC member Russia blocking calls for a pause in the bombing.

Moscow is also believed to be taking part in the bombardment and blocked a UN effort on Friday to bring peace to Eastern Ghouta.

To allow the motion to be pass, a number of concessions were given to Russia, including dropping a condition for the "immediate" delivery of aid to Eastern Ghouta.

The resolution also said the ceasefire will not apply to areas where the Islamic State group or "al-Qaeda" groups are active and "individuals, groups, undertakings and entities" associated with these groups.

This clause has been used before by Russia and the regime to continue bombing of opposition areas after truces have been agreed.

For the hundreds who have lost their lives and critically injured the ceasefire has already come too late.