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Syria Crisis: Death Toll Rises To 527 As Air Strikes Resume In Ghouta, Despite UN Ceasefire Resolution

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| February 26 , 2018 , 13:42 IST

The death toll in Syria has now reached to 527 as the Syrian Government launched fresh air strikes on a rebel-held enclave of Easter Ghouta that continued on Sunday despite a ceasefire resolution passed by the UN Security Council.

President Bashar al-Assad’s army launched a major bombing drive against the enclave of Damascus a week ago, with more than 500 people since killed. 

The UN Security Council on Saturday adopted a resolution calling for a 30-day ceasefire in Syria “without delay”, to allow for aid deliveries and medical evacuations.

The UN resolution has raised hopes of stemming the bloodshed, but it remains unclear when or how broadly the ceasefire could be implemented.

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Since Russia is the main ally of the Assad regime, so on a phone call on Sunday, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron asked President Vladimir Putin to use his influence and put pressure on the Syrian Government to honour the ceasefire.

Merkel’s office said in a statement that they called on Russia "to exercise maximum pressure on the Syrian regime to achieve an immediate suspension of air raids and fighting."

Pope Francis also united international calls for a ceasefire, saying in his Sunday Angelus prayers: “All this is inhuman. One cannot fight evil with another evil.”

At least 7 civilians were killed in strikes on Sunday, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitoring group, bringing the total number of dead in the week to 527, including 129 children.

 

Reports stated that fighting had intensified on the ground. Heavy clashes erupted in southern areas of Eastern Ghouta, with at least 13 members of pro-regime forces and six fighters from the Jaish al-Islam rebel group killed. The report said, "These are the most violent clashes to take place since the beginning of the month."

Eastern Ghouta, home to some 400,000 people, is surrounded by government-controlled territory and its residents are unable to flee.

Syria’s former Al-Qaeda affiliate is present in Eastern Ghouta and Assad’s regime routinely describes all of its opponents as “terrorists”.

Iran’s army chief-of-staff said Sunday that the Syrian military would continue to target “terrorist groups” in Eastern Ghouta. Iran has also been a key ally of Assad’s regime.

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UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has described Eastern Ghouta under the bombardment as “hell on Earth,” and said the ceasefire must be “immediately” implemented.

A total of over 340,000 people have been killed and millions have been expelled from homes in the war in Syria, which next month will enter the eighth year without a diplomatic solution in sight.

The Syrian American Medical Society, a relief organisation, told the BBC one of its hospitals in the area had received patients suffering from symptoms that indicated a chemical attack. It said one child had died.

Eastern Ghouta resident Mohammed Adel said one of his colleagues had visited the hospital and said the child had "suffocated from the chemical attack".

The Syrian government has repeatedly denied targeting civilians and using chemical weapons and said it is trying to liberate the Eastern Ghouta from "terrorists" a term it has used to describe both the jihadist militants and the mainstream rebel groups that hold the enclave.