Vladimir Putin had “ordered” that to stop the shelling on eastern Ghouta every day for five hours, to allow the deployment of humanitarian aid.
A first respite finally, after weeks of terror? The population of eastern Ghouta, a besieged rebel stronghold east of Damascus, was on Tuesday waiting for a first bombing truce, ordered by Moscow. It came into effect as planned at 9 am local time.
But the lull was short-lived. “The Syrian regime has fired nine total strikes since 9 hours, including six artillery shells, two barrels of explosives and an air raid,” Rami Abdel Rahman, director of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, said in the morning. According to the NGO, one child was killed in the locality of Jisrine, where “at least four artillery shots were fired”, also injuring seven civilians.
Meanwhile, the official Sana news agency reported that rebels fired rockets at humanitarian corridors at Al Rafidain camp to prevent civilians from leaving the area.
Humanitarian corridors to evacuate civilians
On Monday, Russian Defense Minister Sergey shoygu announced that, “on order” of President Vladimir Putin, and “to avoid casualties among civilians in Eastern Ghouta, a daily humanitarian truce will be instituted from 27 February from 9 am to 2 pm local time.
“Five hours is better than no hours, but we would like to see an end to all hostilities extended by 30 days, as stipulated by the Security Council,” said the spokesman for the UN, Stephane Dujarric. “We will do our best to deploy our trucks and humanitarian workers in this area,” he added.
“Humanitarian corridors” were also needed to enable the evacuation of civilians. “Their contact details will be made public soon,” said Sergey shoygu. But the Russian Ministry of Defense said the “escalation” was continuing.
Shelling less intense
While the shelling of the Syrian regime has decreased in intensity in the last 48 hours, the air campaign, a rare violence, has killed more than 550 civilians since February 18. On Monday again, 22 civilians, including seven children, were again killed in further raids and artillery fire from the regime.
“The shelling against the Ghouta stopped at 16:00 (local time) before resuming in the early evening in a limited way,” said Rami Abdel Rahman, director of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. “However, artillery fire continued against the Al-Marj area” where there is fighting going on between the Jaysh al-Islam group and the pro-regime forces, added the OSDG official.
Jean-Yves Le Drian in Moscow
The Russian announcement and the partial halt to the bombing comes as the UN and several Western powers have called for the immediate implementation of a Security Council resolution, which until now has been a dead letter, calling for a truce “without delay” 30 days all over Syria.
On Monday evening, in Washington, the spokeswoman for US diplomacy called for “immediate cessation of offensive operations and urgent access to humanitarian workers to treat the wounded and deliver humanitarian aid absolutely necessary, “emphasizing that” Russia has the necessary influence to put an end to these operations “.
Moreover, this Tuesday, France sends to Russia his Foreign Minister, Jean-Yves Le Drian. Paris and Berlin called Moscow to exert “maximum pressure” on Syria for an “immediate” application of the truce.