WASHINGTON — The United Nations Security Council unanimously approved a resolution on Saturday calling for a 30-day cease-fire across Syria, but not before continued airstrikes and shelling in the eastern suburbs of Damascus left at least 22 more people dead and dozens wounded, according to the Associated Press.
The latest surge in deaths of men, women and children came after the Security Council delayed its vote by two days in an effort to persuade Russia to join with other countries in seeking a cease-fire by the Syrian government, to permit the delivery of humanitarian aid to the besieged region. Russia’s U.N. ambassador, Vassily Nebenzia, had repeatedly dismissed an immediate cease-fire unrealistic, but he ultimately voted in favor of the resolution.
For the past week, the Assad regime has waged bombings in in Eastern Ghouta that have killed well over 400 people.
The resolution, introduced Thursday by Kuwait and Sweden, seeks a cessation of all war activities so humanitarian agencies can deliver aid and tend to those who have been injured by the Syrian government’s relentless bombing that has left over 2,000 civilians wounded.
According to the UN, about 393,000 people are trapped in the suburbs of the Syrian capital of Damascus. Even before these attacks escalated beginning last Sunday, Eastern Ghouta was experiencing extreme food shortages due to nearly non-existent aid delivery.
The last UN delivery of food, water and medicine was made last November.
As the security council prepares to vote on the resolution, the outcome will ride one whether Russia – a chief ally of Syrian President Bashar al Assad –abstains and allows it to go through or vetoes it. Russia has already vetoed 10 resolutions regarding Syria’s conduct in the war since it began in 2011, including a resolution last November that sought to launch an investigation into Assad’s use of chemical weapons in an April attack.
Russia and Syria say they have been justified in attacking the region because of terrorist organizations that have infiltrated and controlled the region. Russia has specifically denied that it has participated in the killing of any civilians.
Bashar Jaraff, the UN representative of the Syrian Arab Republic, “definitely” denied that the Syrian government killed any civilians. He even suggested that videos and images that have come from the scenes of the bombings had been “staged.” Jaraff referred to them as “fake news.”
Vassily Nebenzia, Russian ambassador to the United Nations, said Thursday that the pending resolution, seeking a cease fire, is not realistic and cannot be enforced.
“It is a complex process that needs to be negotiated,” Nebenzia said. “It cannot be imposed by a security council resolution.”
The Syrian Observatory of Human Rights, a United Kingdom based pro-opposition human rights group, said today that at least 462 people have been killed and 2,269 injured in the attacks. Ten hospitals and medical points in the area have been destroyed by the bombings as well.
Eastern Ghouta has been under siege since 2013 and is the last major rebel-held enclave in the country. Assad has continued to regain control over Syria with the help of military support from both Russia and Iran.
Over 400,000 people have been killed since the war began in 2011 and millions of people have been displaced around the world and within the country.