DESPERATE civilians trapped in one of the most ferocious assaults of Syria’s civil war awaited aid and medical help Monday after regime air strikes pounded rebel-held Eastern Ghouta despite UN ceasefire demands.
More than 500 people have been killed in a major bombing campaign by President Bashar al-Assad’s forces that has hammered the enclave on the edge of Damascus for over a week.
After days of diplomatic wrangling, the United Nations Security Council on Saturday adopted a resolution calling for a 30-day ceasefire in Syria “without delay” to allow for aid deliveries and medical evacuations.
The resolution raised hopes of stemming the bloodshed, but after clashes continued on Sunday it was unclear when or how broadly the ceasefire would be implemented.
Russia is a key ally of Assad’s regime. In a phone call on Sunday, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron urged President Vladimir Putin to use his influence to reach a truce.
They called on Russia “to exercise maximum pressure on the Syrian regime to achieve an immediate suspension of air raids and fighting,” Merkel’s office said.
In Douma, the main town in Eastern Ghouta, fresh air raids and artillery strikes could be heard Sunday, an AFP correspondent said.
At least 14 civilians including three children were killed in strikes on Sunday, said the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitor, bringing the total number of dead in the week to 530, among them over 130 children.
A child died and at least 13 other people suffered breathing difficulties after a suspected chemical attack on Sunday in a Syrian rebel enclave under intense regime bombardment, said the Observatory and a medic who treated those affected.