Syria Conflict: Putin Orders Eastern Ghouta ‘Humanitarian Pause’

 Syria Conflict: Putin Orders Eastern Ghouta ‘Humanitarian Pause’

Russia’s President Vladimir Putin has ordered a daily humanitarian pause in fighting in the Eastern Ghouta enclave in Syria.

It will start on Tuesday, and include the creation of a “humanitarian corridor” to allow civilians to leave.

The rebel-held area has been under intense bombardment by the Syrian government, with Russian backing, for over a week.It has led to more than 540 deaths, according to a medical charity.

Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu made the announcement, saying the ceasefire would run from 09:00 until 14:00 local time daily. He said more details on the corridor would be released soon.

The United Nations Security Council unanimously called for a 30-day ceasefire on Saturday. The resolution demanded that “all parties cease hostilities without delay” to allow aid deliveries and medical evacuations.

Russia had been accused of delaying the UN vote for several days by asking for changes to be made to the draft.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has described the situation as “hell on Earth”, and demanded immediate action.
Reports on Monday morning spoke of renewed bombardment of the enclave, where some 393,000 civilians are trapped.

The Syria Civil Defence, whose rescue workers are known as the White Helmets, said nine civilians were killed in a strike on one building in Douma. A monitoring group said the victims were from the same family.

The official Sana news agency meanwhile cited police as saying a civilian had been injured in the government-controlled Qassa area of Damascus by shells fired by rebels in the Eastern Ghouta.
On Sunday, at least 20 civilians were killed in government air and artillery attacks, according to the Union of Medical Care and Relief Organizations (UOSSM), a charity that operates hospitals in the enclave.

Casualties were also reported following what the opposition newspaper Enab Baladi reported was a ground offensive by pro-government forces that rebels repelled.

Tolani Giwa

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