“This is no cease-fire.This is the Assad regime, Iran, and Russia continuing to wage war against their political opponents,” Haley said. The ambassador spoke as Syrian regime forces continued attacking Eastern Ghouta despite a 30-day UN truce. She added that the US “remains prepared to act if we must,” if the UN fails to do so. The US asked the Security Council to demand an immediate 30-day cease-fire.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres again likened the chaos in rebel-held Eastern Ghouta to “hell on earth” Guterres told the UN Security Council that “Syria is bleeding inside and out” and, despite some aid truck deliveries to the besieged Damascus suburb, the UN cease-fire deal of Feb. 25 had not been implemented.
“There has been no cessation of hostilities. Violence continues in Eastern Ghouta and beyond — including in Afrin, parts of Idlib and into Damascus and its suburbs,” Guterres told envoys in New York. “Particularly in Eastern Ghouta, airstrikes, shelling and ground offensives have intensified after the adoption of the resolution and claimed many hundreds of civilian lives — some even reporting the toll at more than 1,000.”
The Syrian army’s offensive in Eastern Ghouta, backed by air and artillery strikes, has killed at least 1,160 people since Feb. 18, a war monitor said, as President Bashar Assad seeks to crush the last major rebel stronghold near the capital Damascus.Russia, an ally of Assad, and Damascus say the UN cease-fire does not protect the fighters in Eastern Ghouta, arguing that they are terrorists.
The assault is one of the heaviest in the war, which enters its eighth year this week. The ferocity of the Eastern Ghouta assault prompted condemnation from Western countries and calls for a cease-fire.
Hadi Al-Bahra, a member of the Syrian Negotiation Commission, was due to address the Security Council later on Monday. He urged Western powers to help civilians in Eastern Ghouta. “I’m asking for the US and other permanent (UN council) members to put pressure in front of their own responsibility that it’s not permissible for the killing of civilians and for continuing the siege on Ghouta and other areas in Syria,” Al-Bahra told Arab News in an interview.
The US and other powers saved lives by intervening when Daesh overran Yazidi communities in Sinjar, Iraq, in 2014, and again in Kobani, Syria, the following year, Al-Bahra said. They should do the same for civilians in Eastern Ghouta now, he said.
Al-Bahra, who was president of the Syrian National Coalition from 2014-2015, urged Western governments to use targeted sanctions and trade curbs to pressure Assad and his backers, rather than draft more UN documents.
“We are tired of statements,” Al-Bahra said. “They need to find a way to turn this resolution into an implementable, enforceable resolution. If somebody is against providing real protection for civilians, let them show it.”