Syria’s fragile UN truce at risk amid new government raids in east Ghouta
The latest assault began a day after the declaration of the 30-day ceasefire on humanitarian grounds. Iranian official: the truce does not concern terrorist groups, operations in the area will continue. Unconfirmed sources speak of new chemical attacks. Yesterday at the Angelus the appeal of Pope Francis for the end of the "inhuman violence" in progress.
Damascus (AsiaNews / Agencies) - In spite of the UN Security Council resolution for a 30-day ceasefire on humanitarian grounds, the government air raids on rebel enclave east Ghouta, on the outskirts of Damascus, continue.
Last week, hundreds of people died as a result of the bombing; victims were also registered in the neighborhoods of the old city in the capital, due to the launch of rockets and grenades by the militia and jihadist groups that control the area.
The last assault in the area also involved ground troops and began a few hours after the announcement of the truce. In 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".
Yesterday France and Germany have launched an appeal to Russia to exert pressure on the Syrian government, urging them to honor the ceasefire. The Security Council resolution, reached unanimously and without the veto of Moscow, intends to favor the delivery of aid and encourage the evacuation of the most serious patients.
In the area controlled by the extremist Islamic group Jaysh al-Islam, which uses the help of the jihadist militias of Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, about 400 thousand civilians live in desperate conditions. East Ghouta is the last bastion near Damascus that is not yet under the complete control of the men of President Bashar al-Assad.
The draft resolution approved by the United Nations specifies that the ceasefire does not include the jihadist groups still operating on the Syrian territory, including the Islamic State (IS, ex Isis), al Qaeda and the al Nusra Front.
Yesterday, the head of the Iranian army, Mohammad Bagheri, declared that the truce does not concern "terrorist groups" in East Ghouta, confirming the continuation of military operations in the area. "We respect this resolution - said the senior official - [...] but the areas on the outskirts of Damascus in the hands of al Nusra and other terrorist groups are not covered by the cease-fire and the operations of the army will continue" –
Local sources report that the weekend bombardments recorded a lower level of intensity than the previous days. Three people died in the last attacks. The rebels claim the killing of some government soldiers.
Meanwhile, new accusations emerge regarding the use of chemical weapons by the government army, impossible to verify independently. Sources of the Syrian American Medical Society, an NGO active in the area, reports the admission of some patients in one of its structures with symptoms attributable to a chemical attack, which would have caused the death of a child. Immediate denial by the Syrian government.