UN Security Council diplomats were locked in tough negotiations yesterday on a draft resolution demanding a 30-day ceasefire in Syria.
A vote initially scheduled for 1600 GMT was pushed back to 1930 GMT, but by 4pm (2100 GMT), there was no indication of a new time for council action.
Negotiations went into high gear to avoid a Russian veto of the text, which would establish a truce to allow humanitarian aid deliveries and medical evacuations.
Meanwhile, Syrian regime air strikes and artillery fire hit the rebel-held enclave of Eastern Ghouta for a sixth straight day yesterday killing 38 civilians.
More than 460 civilians, including over 100 children, have been killed in nearly a week of bombardment that has been one of the seven-year Syrian conflict’s bloodiest episodes — and rescuers were searching for more bodies buried in the rubble.
Regime-backer Moscow has demanded “guarantees” that the truce would be respected by rebel fighters, and Kuwait’s ambassador Mansour al-Otaibi, who holds the council presidency this month, insisted diplomats “were almost there”.
Amid the wrangling US President Donald Trump slammed the actions of the Syrian government and its Russian and Iranian supporters as a “humanitarian disgrace”.
Few of Eastern Ghouta’s nearly 400,000 residents — mostly living in a scattering of towns across the semi-rural area east of the capital — ventured out yesterday.
An AFP correspondent in Douma, the enclave’s main town, saw a handful of people stealthily crossing rubble-strewn streets to assess damage to their property or look for food and water.
He said rescuers carried a young boy wounded in the eye, blood trickling down his face, to one of the town’s hospitals. “Will I see again?” he asked a doctor.
Death has fallen from the sky relentlessly since government and allied forces intensified their bombardment on Sunday and rocket fire soon forced everybody to run for cover.
Exhausted and famished families cowered in cramped and damp basements, exchanging information on the latest casualties of the government’s blitz. Some of the only people braving the threat of more bombardment were medical staff in those hospitals still standing and rescuers sifting through the wreckage of levelled buildings.
Fresh strikes yesterday, by the Syria regime and its Russian ally, killed at least 38 civilians, including 11 children, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.
Rami Abdel Rahman, head of the Britain-based war monitor, said the strikes targeted different areas of Eastern Ghouta.
World leaders have expressed outrage at the plight of civilians in Eastern Ghouta, which UN chief Antonio Guterres called “hell on earth”, but have so far been powerless to halt the bloodshed.
QFFD and QRCS provide aid to Ghouta
Qatar Fund for Development (QFFD) announced yesterday that they have provided QR1mn for emergency response to the humanitarian crisis in Eastern Ghouta, Syria.
Under the intervention, Qatar Red Crescent Society (QRCS) is working in co-ordination with local partners to secure relief and medical supplies for the heavily bombed city.
QRCS said in a statement today that they will provide 34,500 meals over 17 days, or 2,000 meals per day, at shelters and distribution locations designated by municipalities and community representatives.
They added that The ongoing military escalation has exacerbated the region’s humanitarian tragedy, including the lack of food products and basic medical services.
Five hospitals have become inoperable, and most of the population have resorted to shelter.
Humanitarian aid providers have limited access to the distressed area.
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