359 civilians killed in 2 weeks of Syrian airstrikes on Ghouta

24 February, 2018, 11:52 | Author: Jason Torres
  • Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov

A draft resolution aimed at ending the carnage in the eastern Ghouta district and elsewhere in Syria will be put up for a vote in the 15-member council at noon (1700 GMT) on Saturday, Kuwait's U.N. Ambassador Mansour Ayyad Al-Otaibi said. A proposal for the truce to start 72 hours after the resolution's adoption has been watered-down to instead demand it start "without delay" in a bid to win Russian support.

Residents say they find it hard to describe what life is like under the intense bombardment.

Eastern Ghouta has been under siege for five years and humanitarian access to the area, which is home to 400,000 people, has been completely cut off. Hundreds of thousands are in urgent need of medical attention.

"The situation is catastrophic", Siraj Mahmoud, a spokesperson for the White Helmets and resident of Eastern Ghouta who works under a pseudonym, told ABC News on Thursday.

A couple of months ago, the rebels, mainly the al-Qaida-linked ones, launched a major offensive on a key military base in Harasta city in Eastern Ghouta, prompting the Syrian forces to launch a counter-offensive to push back the rebels.

"During attacks by Iranian-backed militias and the Assad regime, more than 2,000 civilians have died and almost 5,000 were injured over the last three months", she said.

On Thursday, Syrian army helicopters dropped leaflets over eastern Ghouta, urging residents to leave for their own safety and calling on opposition fighters to surrender.

"We want peace, peace, peace in Damascus because we are exhausted", she said in an excited tone.

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Due to the fact that more than ten hospitals came under air strikes, to treat the wounded nearly impossible.

"Whenever the bombing stops for some moments, the civil defence vehicles go out to the targeted places". Reports of numerous civilian casualties have been surfacing over the past week.

Damascus and Moscow say they only target militants, and that they aim to prevent rebels from firing mortars at the capital.

This could include the two biggest rebel groups in Eastern Ghouta - Jaish al-Islam and its rival Faylaq al-Rahman.

United Nations special envoy Staffan de Mistura said a truce had to be followed by immediate, unhindered access to the Eastern Ghouta.

World leaders have expressed outrage at the plight of civilians in Eastern Ghouta, which United Nations chief Antonio Guterres called "hell on earth", but have so far been powerless to halt the bloodshed.

In another concession to Russian Federation, the draft also specifies that the ceasefire will not apply to operations against the Islamic State group or Al-Qaeda, along with "individuals, groups, undertakings and entities associated" with the terror groups.

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