At least four people have died as the Syrian regime continues to bombard eastern Ghouta, despite the announcement of a five hour ceasefire by President Bashar Al-Assad's ally Russia.
Airstrikes have continued to take place across the Damascus suburb, with Syrian civil defence teams pulling civilians from the rubble in the towns of Kafr Batna, with one child being found dead in Jisrayn. Reports from the ground also indicate that the shelling of the towns of Irbin, Douma and Harasta is continuing unabated despite the truce due to have started at 9am (7am GMT).
UN Humanitarian spokesman Jens Laerke confirmed the reports at a briefing in Geneva this morning stating: "We have reports this morning there is continuous fighting in eastern Ghouta. Clearly the situation on the ground is not such that convoys can go in or medical evacuations can go out."
Yesterday, Russia had called for a five-hour ceasefire to be implemented in the enclave to allow a safe route for wounded to be evacuated and civilians to escape. Overnight, Moscow and Damascus accused rebels of attacking this humanitarian corridor to prevent civilians from leaving; opposition groups have denied they were responsible.
Yesterday's initial truce announcement by Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov was criticised for exempting from the ceasefire Jaish Al-Islam, an opposition group that controls the majority of eastern Ghouta, and the smaller Ahrar Ash-Shaam group, describing them as partners of the former Al-Qaeda affiliate Hayaat Tahrir Al-Shaam (HTS), despite both participating in internationally recognised talks. The caveat has allowed bombardment to continue, with the regime stating that it is targeting terrorist groups.
Earlier today, Free Syrian Army affiliated groups in the region sent an official letter to the UN Security Council, reaffirming that HTS fighters are ready to leave the enclave under UN supervision in an effort to stem the fighting.
On Saturday, the UN Security council voted unanimously in favour of a 30-day ceasefire across Syria, as rescuers in Ghouta said a week of perpetual bombing had not let up long enough for them to count bodies during one of the bloodiest air assaults of the seven-year war. Shortly after the vote, warplanes struck another town in the province.
Eastern Ghouta is also one of four de-escalation zones established last May by Russia, Iran and Turkey in order to stem the bloodshed of Syria's six-year civil war. However, the region has experienced near constant bombardment for many months, with aid provision restricted, leaving 400,000 civilians struggling to survive.