02/27/2018, 10.13
SYRIA - RUSSIA
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Moscow: a 'humanitarian pause' in Ghouta offensive

Bombings on the rebel enclave have lessened in intensity in the last few hours. The opening of "humanitarian corridors" is planned to allow civilians to escape. In a week over 500 victims, thousands injured. The UN calls for an end to all hostilities. But fighting continues in Afrin, where the Turkish anti-Kurdish offensive is underway.

Damascus (AsiaNews / Agencies) - In an attempt to fully implement the 30-day truce in Syria sanctioned by the UN Security Council, Russia has invoked a daily "humanitarian pause" in bombing on Ghouta East, a rebel enclave on the outskirts of Damascus.

The attempt by Moscow is to convince the Syrian ally to stop the offensive in progress and the move has already guaranteed the first results: since yesterday evening, in fact, the intensity of the bombing has decreased.

In recent days, the United Nations, France and Germany have launched numerous appeals to Russian President Vladimir Putin, the only one able to intervene on the Damascus government and convince it to respect the ceasefire. In just over a week more than 500 people have died, thousands have been injured in Ghouta east. Victims were also registered in the neighborhoods of the old city in the capital, due to the launch of rockets and grenades by militia and jihadist groups.

The Kremlin has announced a daily window of five hours, to allow residents of the area on the eastern outskirts of the capital to abandon their shelters in search of food and medicine. "On the instructions of the Russian president - said Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu - with the aim of averting new civilian casualties in Ghouta east, from 9 am to 2 pm a humanitarian pause will be in force".

At the same time "humanitarian corridors" will be opened to allow civilians to escape.

Commenting on the Russian initiative, UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric stresses that "five hours is better than nothing"; however, the goal of international diplomacy is "the end of all hostilities" for the next 30 days, "as enshrined by the Security Council".

n recent days, the UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres said the area was a "hell on earth", with hundreds of victims and injured. And yesterday at the Angelus, Pope Francis also recalled the "inhuman violence" taking place in the country, underlining that "one cannot fight evil with more evil".

The Syrian government has intensified its campaign against the rebel enclave, which has been outside its control since 2012. The forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad exploit the ambiguity of the UN resolution, according to which some jihadist groups and terrorists - like the Islamic State and al Nusra - are excluded from the truce, to continue military operations.

The attention of the international community is concentrated on Ghouta east, however it is not only the government of Damascus that disregards the UN truce. Turkey, engaged in the offensive against the Kurdish YPG militias (People's Protection Unit) in Afrin, stressed that the cease-fire will not stop "the fight against terrorism". The head of Turkish diplomacy reiterated its intention to "fight" the "organizations" that "threaten the territorial and political integrity" of the area.

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