Russia Vows 'No Break' For Syrian Rebels In Ghouta

REUTERS  Omar Sanadiki

REUTERS Omar Sanadiki

A five-year government siege has left hospitals too under-resourced to treat people properly and more than 1,000 people in Ghouta need to be bussed out for care, the United Nations has said.

A country known for its ancient civilization and with a people known for their richness of diversity, "Syria is bleeding inside and out", the United Nations chief told the 15-member body in his briefing on the implementation of Security Council resolution 2401unanimously adopted on 24 February. "When the global community consistently fails to act, there are times when states are compelled to take their own action".

Damascus and Moscow have been carrying out a fierce bombing campaign and ground assault against the besieged rebel-held eastern Ghouta enclave since mid-February, despite a U.N. Security Council resolution calling for a countrywide ceasefire.

The US accuses Damascus and its allies of using excessive force in Eastern Ghouta, a suburb of the capital that had been controlled by Islamist armed groups for several years.

In Douma, residents and displaced families were sleeping in shops and in the streets as basements and underground shelters filled up.

But Hasan Yahya, 72, said his heart was heavy as he left his family behind in Douma. "There is no bathroom, just one toilet, and there are 300 people".

With the area now split into different parts by the army advance, Delwan said his rebel faction was in charge only of evacuations from Douma, and not from other towns.

Azad Mohamed, a 32-year old resident, said his relatives were fired upon as they tried to escape Monday, forcing them to turn back. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights and Syrian Civil Defense first responders, known as White Helmets, said Kfar Batna, a town in the southwestern corner of the enclave was particularly heavily bombed since Tuesday.

Jaish Al-Islam, one of the main rebel groups in Eastern Ghouta, said on Monday it had reached an agreement with the government's ally Russian Federation to evacuate wounded people.

For months, the United Nations has pleaded with authorities to allow the evacuation.

At least 353,935 people have died since, including more than 106,000 civilians, the Observatory said on Monday, providing a new overall death toll for the conflict.

In addition, these rebel groups have also been fighting the Islamic State, of ISIS, which still occupies parts of Syria.

For the civilians leaving rebel-held areas in Eastern Ghouta, what they could hardly forget is the tough living conditions in their hometowns where they suffer from the lack of medicine and food amid the ongoing military showdown.

The United Nations has warned of impending starvation if aid can not reach the area, where worldwide deliveries have always been erratic and obstructed by the Syrian government.

The government assault on eastern Ghouta has become one of the bloodiest offensives of the war and is on course to deal rebels their biggest defeat since the battle of Aleppo in 2016. They still control large areas in the northwest and southwest and a few scattered pockets elsewhere but have been driven from most major population centres.

Syrian firefighters use a hose to extinguish fire following Syrian government shelling on the town of Douma in the rebel-held enclave of Eastern Ghouta on the eastern outskirts of the capital Damascus on March 10, 2018.