Syrian forces launch Ghouta ground attack

Syrian forces launch Ghouta ground attackā€

The limited pause came after a UN Security Council resolution that called for a nationwide 30-day ceasefire that failed to take hold. Mr Abu Bashir said the shelling still struck civilians living in villages near the clashes.

The daily pauses began on Tuesday but so far, no humanitarian aid has gone in - and no civilians have left the area, except for an elderly Pakistani man and his wife who were evacuated from the town of Douma on Thursday.

"Russia, together with the Syrian government, has already announced the establishment of humanitarian corridors in Eastern Ghouta", Lavrov told the UN Human Rights Council.

"Over 580 people since 18 February are now reported to have been killed due to air- and ground-based strikes in eastern Ghouta, with well over 1,000 people injured", he said.

Ghouta is one of four supposed de-escalation zones created in a May 2017 agreement brokered by Russia, Turkey and Iran to quell fighting between rebel forces and the regime.

Recent satellite images of one neighbourhood in Eastern Ghouta show up to 71 percent of buildings destroyed or damaged.

State-run al-Ikhbariya TV reported that dozens of civilians had gathered on the edge of eastern Ghouta to leave, but were prevented by insurgents from reaching a crossing point into government-controlled areas.

France is pressing Russian Federation for more specific measures enforcing the ceasefire so that crucial aid can be delivered to Eastern Ghouta. But the truce was marred by violence, with Moscow and Damascus accusing armed groups of shelling the purported humanitarian corridors and keeping the population hostage.

Eastern Ghouta, adjacent to the Syrian capital, came under opposition control in the early days of the revolt against the Syrian government, threatening President Bashar Assad's seat of power.

In a letter sent to the United Nations on Tuesday, they said they were willing to expel the jihadist factions that also have a footprint in Eastern Ghouta.

"They have been bombarding continuously and in some days they fire up to 80 shells and projectiles and in other times some of the shells hit the Russian embassy and the trade attache and we won't be patient regarding this situation".

In Moscow, President Vladimir Putin's spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, said that "continuing provocations by terrorists [in eastern Ghouta] regrettably leave no chance for settling this situation properly". Shall we endlessly tolerate that?

"Only our country is called upon to implement Resolution 2401", Russian Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia said with visible irritation. Mark Lowcock, the UN under secretary-general for humanitarian affairs, addressing members of the UN Security Council.

The five-hour daily pauses in fighting in Syria's embattled eastern suburbs of the capital Damascus - laid out under a "unilateral" plan by Russian Federation - are not enough to take in aid or evacuate civilians, a top United Nations aid official said Thursday.

On Wednesday, the European Union demanded that Russia, Iran and Turkey take responsibility for ensuring that the fighting stops in Syria and that a real 30-day halt in fighting is respected.

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