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United Nations Security Council adopting a resolution in favour of a 30-day cease-fire in Syria. United Nations Security Council adopting a resolution in favour of a 30-day cease-fire in Syria.  (AFP or licensors)

UN agrees 30-day ceasefire in Syria, violence continues

Pro-Assad forces resumed an air offensive in Eastern Ghouta today just hours after the United Nations Security Council called for a 30-day cease-fire in Syria.

By Nathan Morley

Warplanes shelled the area for the eighth consecutive day, according to reports on pan-Arab broadcaster Al Jazeera.

The continuation of violence comes as a massive disappointment to the UN. Their resolution, which does not apply to operations against the so-called Islamic State, al-Qaeda and the Nusra Front, also called for weekly aid convoys, medical evacuations and the immediate lifting of sieges.

For the last week, missiles and air strikes have hit a string of targets across the region, killing over 500 people – including many women and children. Massive explosions rocked eastern Ghouta on Saturday in one of the deadliest air assaults of the civil war - witnesses said hospitals and medical clinics had been targeted.

Rescuers said incendiary bombs caused fires to break out in several areas leaving entire districts shrouded in smoke. The region is the only big rebel bastion close to Damascus.

On Sunday, Russian President Vladimir Putin discussed the situation in Syria with his French and German counterparts. Putin is a key player, his government, along with Iran, is a backer of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Antonio Guterres, the UN Secretary General, has described Eastern Ghouta as being like "hell on Earth" The area was once home to about two million people but the seven-year long war has since reduced the population to about 400,000.

In a statement issued after the UN vote, Mr Guterres said: ““the resolution will be immediately implemented and sustained, particularly to ensure the immediate, safe, unimpeded and sustained delivery of humanitarian aid and services, the evacuation of the critically sick and wounded and the alleviation of the suffering of the Syrian people.”

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25 February 2018, 16:19