Civilians stay put despite 'pause' in Syria bloodshed

03 March 2018, 04:25 | Isaac Mcdaniel

Russia blamed for failure to stop Syrian chemical attacks

Syria: 560 killed, 2000 injured in Ghouta in 9 days

In a letter to the countries' foreign ministers, seen Wednesday by The Associated Press, EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini wrote that a solid cease-fire could bring momentum to United Nations -brokered peace talks, Fox News reported.

But he said there has been no access for humanitarian convoys, nor authorization by the regime to go into the besieged areas, nor medical evacuations since the Security Council resolution was passed, he said.

The bombardment quietened since the Kremlin ordered the daily "humanitarian pause", but not one of the battered region's 400,000 residents left to board buses provided by the regime.

"The humanitarian corridor is open to all those who wish to return to the fold of the homeland, but so far nobody came and this is the second day", said a military officer at the checkpoint.

The U.N. humanitarian chief said Wednesday that a 30-day cease-fire across Syria had not been implemented, and he asked the Security Council when it would be put into effect.

The TV presenter said government fliers have been dropped in eastern Ghouta indicating to civilians the route to the corridor and how to proceed if they want to leave the area.

"Russia is daily undertaking efforts to ensure a cessation of hostilities, for humanitarian pauses to be established, to alleviate the plight of suffering civilians", he told council members. "We hope that you don't co-operate with the terrorists", the presenter said, reading from the flier.

According to United Nations officials, hundreds of thousands of people have been killed in the conflict.

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People inspect the rubble of damaged buildings after several airstrikes a day earlier, rebels-held Douma, Eastern Ghouta.

The European UnionĀ“s top diplomat has written to the foreign ministers of Russia, Iran and Turkey urging them to uphold a ceasefire in eastern Ghouta and allow aid into besieged areas.

Nebenzia said what is needed above all in eastern Ghouta is "to effectively neutralize" the Nusra Front, calling for cooperation to get rid of the extremist group.

The Russian military said on Thursday that civilians in Syria's eastern Ghouta had made numerous requests to be evacuated, the TASS news agency reported, citing Russian Major-General Vladimir Zolotukhin speaking to reporters in Damascus.

"This is cynical, callous and in flagrant defiance of the demands of [Resolution] 2401", said USA envoy Kelley Currie.

FILE - Russia's U.N. Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia speaks to reporters after attending a Security Council meeting, August 9, 2017, at U.N. headquarters. He was sharply critical of the West, and especially the United States, for fancying themselves as "champions of humanity" and saying a cease-fire depends nearly entirely on Russian Federation and Syria.

An unreleased UN report assessing North Korea's compliance with UN resolutions says an unnamed UN member state has spotted North Korean technicians at Syrian chemical-weapons and missile facilities.



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