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UN: 'Hell on earth' in Syria's Eastern Ghouta must end

A view of a damaged hospital after the Assad Regime carried out air strikes in Eastern Ghouta Syria on 21 February 2018 [Diaa Al-Din Samout/Anadolu Agency]

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres today called on warring sides in Syria to implement a 30-day ceasefire, in line with an appeal by major powers at the weekend.

Reuters reported Guterres saying that UN aid agencies are ready to deliver life-saving aid and evacuate critically wounded from the opposition-held Damascus enclave of Eastern Ghouta, where 400,000 people have been living under siege.

Eastern Ghouta cannot wait, it is high time to stop this hell on earth

Guterres told the UN Human Rights Council, which opened its main four-week annual session in Geneva.

UN human rights chief Zeid Ra'ad Al-Hussein said air strikes on Eastern Ghouta were continuing this morning.

Read: The regime is killing people and the whole world is watching'

Since Tuesday last week, regime forces stepped up attacks on Eastern Ghouta using barrel bombs, artillery fire and other types of weapons, according to an Anadolu Agency correspondent based in the area.

Over a three-day period, the regime has reportedly carried out 260 separate attacks in Eastern Ghouta, killing more than 250 civilian residents of the district.

At peace talks held in the Kazakh capital Astana in May of last year, Turkey, Russia and Iran designated Eastern Ghouta as a "de-escalation zone" in which acts of aggression would be expressly prohibited.

Nevertheless, Russia — one of the agreement's three guarantor-states — has failed to prevent the Assad regime from repeatedly violating the terms of the truce.

Eastern Ghouta has remained under a crippling regime siege for the last five years, which has brought the district to the verge of a humanitarian catastrophe.

International OrganisationsMiddle EastNewsSyriaUN
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