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UN Security Council Unanimously Backs Syria Ceasefire

UN Security Council Unanimously Backs Syria Ceasefire
(Getty Images)

Saturday, 24 February 2018 02:24 PM

The United Nations' Security Council Saturday unanimously adopted a resolution Saturday demanding a 30-day ceasefire in Syria, reaching a truce that allows for emergency aid and the evacuation of the wounded to proceed in the war-struck country's hardest-hit areas.

The vote came after a showdown between U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley and Russian Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia over the ceasefire's timing, reports CNN.

"In the three days it took us to adopt this resolution, how many mothers lost their kids to the bombing and shelling?" Haley said after Saturday's vote, in strongly worded comments aimed at Russia's reluctance to enact the cease fire more quickly. "How many more images did we need to see of fathers holding their dead children? All for nothing, because here we are voting for a ceasefire that could have saved lives days ago."

Diplomats said the United States fought to keep the language in the Security Council's resolution to make the ceasefire start immediately, in order to keep further deliveries of humanitarian aid from being delayed. However, Russia, which remains an ally of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's regime, wanted the implementation delayed.

Russia relented, however, and the language to make the ceasefire and access immediate remained. Moscow remains a staunch advocate of Assad's regime.

The resolution also demands that all sieges, including in Eastern Ghouta, Yarmouk, Foua and Kefraya end immediately, and orders all sides to "cease depriving civilians of food and medicine indispensable to their survival."

Haley, meanwhile, said after the vote that the Security Council was late in responding to the growing crisis.

"On Thursday, in an effort to stall, Russia called for an open meeting on the humanitarian situation in Syria," she said. "At that meeting, 14 members of this council were ready to impose a ceasefire. But Russia obstructed the vote again. And then yesterday (Friday), this council sat around for hours, ready to vote, only to have Russia delay yet again. Every minute this council waited on Russia, the human suffering grew."

According to Doctors Without Borders, more than 520 people have died and 2,500 have been wounded since this past Sunday in bombing strikes in Eastern Ghouta, and activists said the Assad regime used thousands of artillery shells and rocket shells Friday night and into Saturday alone.

The weapons included incendiary bombs, according to a spokesman for the White Helmets rescue group, who told CNN the bombs were "bursting in the sky, and the colors were white and dark orange."

The UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights confirmed shelling with "incendiary substances" caused fires in Eastern Ghouta, while nearly a half-million people remained hiding in the Damascus suburbs.

Dr. Fayez Orabi, head of the enclave's health department, told CNN through a series of WhatsApp message that the victims are mainly women, children, and elderly people. 

Meanwhile, Russia did obtain one concession in the resolution. The ceasefire will not apply to operations taken against ISIS or Al-Qaeda, along with "individuals, groups, undertakings and entities" associated with the terror groups.

© AFP 2018

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With Russia's backing, the UN Security Council on Saturday unanimously backed a 30-day ceasefire in Syria to allow for humanitarian aid deliveries and medical evacuations.
un, security council, ceasefire
Saturday, 24 February 2018 02:24 PM
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