Syria war: New deadly raids rock rebel-held Eastern Ghouta – BBC News
Syrian government forces are reported to have carried out a wave of air and artillery strikes on the besieged rebel-held Eastern Ghouta region for a fifth day running.
Forty-six more people died, bringing the number killed since Sunday to more than 400, a monitoring group says.
The UN has said the 393,000 people there are trapped in “hell on earth”.
The UN Security Council in New York is meeting to discuss a draft resolution calling for a 30-day nationwide truce.
The ceasefire would not apply to the Islamic State group, al-Qaeda and the al-Nusra Front.
But Russia’s UN representative, Vassily Nebenzia, has told the meeting that there is no agreement on the draft resolution, sponsored by Sweden and Kuwait, and he has presented amendments.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov had earlier said it would consider allowing the text to pass if the truce does not cover Islamic State and Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, an al-Qaeda-linked alliance that has a presence in the Eastern Ghouta.
Mr Lavrov said he also wanted to exclude rebel groups in the enclave who are “co-operating” with Hayat Tahrir al-Sham and shelling nearby government-held areas.
The US, the UK and France have pushed for the resolution to be passed immediately.
Separately, Iran’s Deputy Foreign Minister, Abbas Araghchi, has told the BBC “fear of war is everywhere in our region” and at the same time described the situation with Iran’s Syrian ally as “very complicated”.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a UK-based monitoring group, said rain clouds appeared to keep aircraft from the skies above the Eastern Ghouta on Thursday morning. But they returned around midday once the weather improved.
The Syria Civil Defence, whose rescue workers are widely known as the White Helmets, said residential areas in the town of Douma came under sustained attack, first from ground-to-ground rockets and then government and Russian jets.
Spokesman Siraj Mahmoud also asserted that the organisation was being deliberately targeted by government aircraft, with four rescuers killed since Sunday night. “Everyone knows it is an extermination,” he told the Associated Press.
The Syrian state news agency meanwhile reported that a child was killed and six civilians wounded in the government-controlled Barzeh district of Damascus by rebel shellfire. Army units responded with “precision strikes”, destroying a number of rebel positions and inflicting heavy losses, it said.
The Syrian Observatory monitoring group says that since Sunday at least 403 people have been killed in air strikes, barrel bomb attacks and shell fire in the Eastern Ghouta.
The UN humanitarian co-ordinator for Syria, Panos Moumtzis, echoed calls for a ceasefire.
Referring to the harrowing images coming out of the enclave, he said: “If this is not going to convince Council members, Council states, of the need for a ceasefire, honestly we don’t know what is it that would convince them”.
The government has denied targeting civilians and insisted it is trying to liberate the Eastern Ghouta from “terrorists” – a term it has used to describe both jihadist militants and the mainstream rebel groups that dominate the enclave.
But on Wednesday, UN human rights chief Zeid Raad Al Hussein accused it of carrying out a “monstrous campaign of annihilation”.
Already overwhelmed medical facilities had been repeatedly hit, meaning that hundreds of people with extremely severe injuries faced a slow and painful death without adequate medical care, he said.
Aid groups report dozens of hospitals being put out of action since Sunday.
Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) said the government’s siege was also preventing medics from obtaining essential life-saving supplies, warning that its facilities had completely run out of supplies of blood bags, general anaesthetic drugs and intravenous antibiotics.