Thursday 19 September 2019

Three dead as ceasefire fails to stop air strikes

But UN resolution does help to calm the violence in Syria

A child removes debris from a damage building in the besieged town of Douma, eastern Ghouta, Damascus, Syria. Photo: REUTERS
A child removes debris from a damage building in the besieged town of Douma, eastern Ghouta, Damascus, Syria. Photo: REUTERS

Bassem Mroue in Beirut

At least three people are reported to have been killed amid violence in Syria despite a resolution from the UN Security Council demanding a 30-day ceasefire.

Activists and residents in Damascus reported low-level clashes on the southern edge of its rebel-held suburbs, known as eastern Ghouta, and two air strikes late on Saturday night, shortly after the resolution was adopted.

During the day yesterday, some more shelling and air strikes were reported by activists in eastern Ghouta.

The relative calm came after a week of intense air strikes and shelling that killed more than 500 people in eastern Ghouta and left dozens dead or wounded in the government-held Damascus, which rebels pelted with mortar shells.

"This has been the calmest night since last Sunday," said Rami Abdurrahman who heads the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, referring to the start of the bombing campaign on February 19.

The Observatory said yesterday's shelling killed three people and wounded 27 in several areas in eastern Ghouta.

The opposition's Syrian Civil Defence, also known as White Helmets, said the three were killed in the towns of Saqba, Beit Sawa and Hammouriyeh.

State news agency Sana said insurgents breached the truce by firing 15 shells yesterday on government-held areas on the edge of Ghouta.

Ghouta-based opposition activist Anas al-Dimashqi said the night was calm but warplanes and drones were flying over rebel-held areas. He said several explosions were heard yesterday in Ghouta.

Dr Sakhr al-Dimashqi, a surgeon at a clinic in Ghouta, told The Associated Press that several shells hit some towns in the suburbs, adding that they received six wounded people at the clinic where he works.

The two largest and most powerful rebel factions in Ghouta, Failaq al-Rahman and Army of Islam, issued statements saying they will abide by the ceasefire unless they are forced to fire in self-defence. Both called for the "immediate delivery" of emergency aid.

The resolution excludes members of Isil and al-Qa'ida-linked fighters. Ghouta is also home to a few hundred members of the al-Qa'ida- linked Levant Liberation Committee.

Russia's Foreign Ministry said yesterday that the fight against Isil and al-Qa'ida's affiliate will continue, despite what it described as attempts by certain external players to engage "international terrorists and groups of opposition militants joining them to implement plans that are still nurtured to overthrow the legitimate authorities of Syria and dismember the country".

It added that "the terrorists won't get any respite".

Irish Independent

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