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UN to vote on urgent help for Syria’s Eastern Ghouta
February 22, 2018, 10:29 am

Russia has vetoed several draft resolutions on Syria which it says are unfair and biased, often following “fabricated” evidence [Xinhua]

The United Nations Security Council is expected to vote on a new resolution calling for a 30-day ceasefire in Syria, following reports of heavy fighting and mass casualties near the capital Damascus.

Russia had called for the Security Council to meet to discuss the resolution, while Kuwait and Sweden called for a vote.

A draft of the resolution says the UN is outraged at the “unacceptable levels of violence” seen in the past few days in the Ghouta district of Damascus and Idlib province.

The UN says at least 340 people have been killed in Eastern Ghouta since February 4.

The expected vote on the resolution comes a day after UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres urged an immediate cessation of hostilities in these areas.

“I am deeply saddened by the terrible suffering of the civilian population in Eastern Ghouta, 400,000 people that live in hell on earth,” Guterres told the Security Council.

He called on humanitarian aid to be delivered to the needy and for all parties to the conflict to allow the evacuation of an estimated 700 people that need urgent medical treatment.

“This is a human tragedy that is unfolding in front of our eyes,” said Guterres.

Meanwhile, Russia’s UN Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia said that a 30-day ceasefire is unrealistic and difficult to enforce.

The Russian Defense Ministry on Thursday said that efforts to broker a ceasefire in Eastern Ghouta have failed because the Islamist anti-government factions there are digging in and refusing to surrender their weapons.

Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has blamed them for the continuing fighting.

The Ministry’s spokesman Major-General Yuri Yevtushenko also said the humanitarian situation there was getting critical.

US Ambassador to the UN Nikii Haley has said that “it’s time to take immediate action” to save civilians who are under attack from the Syrian army.

“Eastern Ghouta cannot wait,” she said.

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