Washington/Geneva: ‘The five-hour ceasefire, declared by Russia, to rescue the civilians trapped in the ‘Eastern Ghouta’ conflict, is a mockery of the Syrian public. Russia should follow the UN’s ceasefire orders.’ reminded the US Secretary of State. This US criticism towards Russia was against the backdrop of the attacks by the Syrian army in this area, despite the ceasefire ordained by the United Nations. The United Nations has also expressed its displeasure against Russia, saying that the Russian efforts in ‘Eastern Ghouta’ have not been enough.
The United Nations Security Council (UNSC) expressed concern about the situation in ‘Eastern Ghouta’ and announced a ceasefire for 30 days. Following this, Russia declared a ceasefire for 5 hours every day in ‘Eastern Ghouta’. This Russian decision came under severe criticism from Heather Nauert, the spokesperson for the US Department of State.
‘I may remind here that fifteen countries voted on the resolution about the ceasefire in Syria last Saturday at the UNSC. Russia also participated in the vote. As per the resolution, it was necessary to have a complete ceasefire in Syria. But Russia announced a partial ceasefire in ‘Eastern Ghouta’ and this is not acceptable’, criticised Heather Nauert. Russia must exert pressure on the Syrian regime not to violate the ceasefire, demanded Nauert.
The Syrian army violated the ceasefire by carrying out attacks in the ‘Eastern Ghouta’ two days ago. The Syrian army used heavy artillery during the Russian ceasefire period. Reports have been received about loss of civilian lives in these attacks. The Syrian government has claimed that their army has not violated the ceasefire.
Syrian and Russian armies have started a conflict in the ‘Eastern Ghouta’ region, near the capital Damascus, since the last few days. It is claimed that these attacks that continued for the past 11 days, have caused loss of 646 civilian lives including 130 children. Russia has clarified that these attacks in ‘Eastern Ghouta’ will continue because they are targeted towards the terrorists posing danger to the Assad regime.
Similar to the US Department of State, a Special Envoy appointed by the United Nations for Syria, Jan Egeland, has expressed concern about the Russia’s partial ceasefire. In the United Nations conference at Geneva, Egeland has described the situation in ‘Eastern Ghouta’ as being grave. Attacks by the Syrian government has left more than 400 thousand civilians waiting for supplies of essential commodities. Egeland informed that so far the aid had reached only 7000 civilians. Egeland also suggested that this ceasefire limited only to ‘Eastern Ghouta’, will not solve the problems of the Syrian people. It is necessary to extend the ceasefire to other parts of Syria as well, he said.
Meanwhile, Nikki Haley, the US envoy to the United Nations has criticised the Russian action in Syria. She also demanded a vote on the report prepared by the United Nations about the chemical attacks carried out by the Syrian regime on its own people. The report indicts the Syrian regime for the chemical attacks. But Russia has expressed support for the Assad regime by rejecting this report.