First Published: 2018-02-21

UN chief 'deeply alarmed' by Eastern Ghouta violence
Guterres urges all sides to uphold basic principles of humanitarian law, including protection of civilians in Syria's Eastern Ghouta.
Middle East Online

Bombarded to death and starvation

UNITED NATIONS - UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Tuesday said he was "deeply alarmed" by the escalating violence in Syria's Eastern Ghouta enclave after more than 100 civilians were killed in the second straight day of air strikes.

Guterres urged all sides to uphold the basic principles of humanitarian law, including the protection of civilians.

"The secretary-general is deeply alarmed by the escalating situation in Eastern Ghouta and its devastating impact on civilians," said UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric.

Syrian and Russian air strikes battered rebel-held Eastern Ghouta, killing at least 106 civilians including 19 children on Tuesday, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

On Monday, 127 Syrians were killed.

"Nearly 400,000 people in Eastern Ghouta have been subjected to airstrikes, shelling and bombardment," said Dujarric.

Besieged by Syrian government forces, residents of Eastern Ghouta "are living under extreme conditions, including malnutrition," he added.

Guterres recalled that Eastern Ghouta has been designated as a de-escalation zone by Russia, Iran and Turkey and he reminded all parties "of their commitments in this regard."

Negotiations meanwhile were continuing at the Security Council on a draft resolution demanding a 30-day ceasefire to allow for urgent deliveries of humanitarian aid and medical evacuations.

- 'Where is Russia' -

Germany on Wednesday urged Russia and Iran to push the Syrian regime to end the deadly airstrikes on rebel-held Eastern Ghouta, noting that the two had pledged to be guarantors of peace in Syria.

"One has to ask where is Russia, where is Iran, which had pledged in Astana to guarantee a ceasefire also in Eastern Ghouta," said Steffen Seibert, spokesman for Chancellor Angela Merkel, referring to peace talks in the Kazakh capital.

"Without the support of these two allies, Assad's regime would not be where it is today, and undoubtedly, without this support, this regime would have to show more readiness to negotiate in the UN (peace) process," the German government spokesman added.

"We demand that the Assad regime immediately end the massacre in Ghouta and allow in humanitarian aid as well as medical evacuation. We also demand that the backers of the Assad regime use their strong influence to achieve this end," Seibert said.

The regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad stepped up its airstrikes this month on the rebel enclave east of Damascus, where close to 300 civilians have been killed since Sunday.

Warplanes continued to pound Eastern Ghouta towns on Wednesday, killing 24 civilians, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.


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