Syrian government forces shell rebel-held Eastern Ghouta despite Russian ceasefire plan
(NEW YORK) — Syrian government forces shelled the rebel-held district of Eastern Ghouta in Syria today, despite a daily five-hour ceasefire ordered by Russia, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s main ally.
During the truce, which was supposed to last from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. local time, government forces fired rockets and mortars on the towns of Harasta and Douma in Eastern Ghouta, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a U.K.-based war monitor.
The Douma attack left four people injured.
No civilians were killed during the ceasefire period, the monitoring group said, but at least eight civilians, including a child and a White Helmet rescue volunteer, were killed in airstrikes and shelling before and after the designated ceasefire period.
After Russia’s planned ceasefire period ended at 2 p.m. local time, Syrian government forces intensified airstrikes on Eastern Ghouta, pounding several towns. A spokesman for the Syrian Civil Defense, also known as the White Helmets, confirmed to ABC News that a rescue volunteer was killed and that multiple towns in Eastern Ghouta were bombed today.
“Shelling is hitting Harasta, Douma, Arbin, Kafr Batna, Beit Sawa, and a White Helmet volunteer was killed in Utaya,” Siraj Mahmoud, spokesman for the White Helmets in Eastern Ghouta, said.
An estimated 400,000 people are trapped in Eastern Ghouta with little access to food, water, fuel, electricity and health care. The district has been besieged by the Syrian government since 2013.
Since the Syrian government and its allies launched a fierce offensive on Eastern Ghouta Feb. 18, at least 601 civilians, including 147 children, have been killed, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. The latest escalation of violence there is one of the deadliest of the seven-year Syrian war.
The U.N. Security Council Saturday adopted a resolution demanding a complete cessation of hostilities for 30 days across Syria “without delay.” Since then, at least 67 civilians have been killed in Eastern Ghouta, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
Russia Monday said it would establish a truce lasting for five hours a day, starting Tuesday.
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