Airstrikes in Syria persist following cease-fire agreement

Injured children are treated at a hospital in rebel-held Douma, Eastern Ghouta, Syria. Airstrikes in the area continued Sunday after the United Nations signed a 30-day cease-fire to allow humanitarian aid to be delivered to the Damascus suburb. Photo by Mohammed Badra/EPA

Feb. 25 (UPI) — Airstrikes continued in the Syrian enclave of Eastern Ghouta Sunday, hours after a United Nations resolution calling for a 30-day cease-fire.

At least seven people are believed to have died since the cease-fire –intended to allow the delivery of humanitarian aid to the area — was signed, U.N. Humanitarian coordinator Panos Moumtzis told CNN.

“Nothing has changed,” Dr. Hamza Hassan said. “The airstrikes are continuing. A maternity hospital has just been hit in Saqba and is out of service.”

The airstrikes concentrated on the outskirts of Eastern Ghouta, a suburb of Damascus, and included ground attacks for the first time in this offensive, which began last Sunday.

The Syrian regime says it is targeting terrorists inside the enclave, as the draft resolution stated the cease-fire doesn’t apply to operations against the Islamic State, al-Qaida and the Nusra Front.

“We practice a sovereign right of self-defense, and we will continue to fight terrorism wherever it is found on Syrian soil,” Syrian U.N. Ambassador Bashar Ja’afari said.

Chief of staff of the Iranian Armed Forces Mohammad Bagheri, an ally of the Syrian regime, said Iran would also continue to target terrorist controlled areas.

“Parts of the Syrian outskirts that are under the control of terrorists are not under the ceasefire, and clearing operations will continue there,” said Bagheri.

The U.N. Security Council on Saturday unanimously approved the 30-day cease-fire after a week of intense bombing by the Syrian government killed 500 civilians and wounded hundreds more.

The resolution insisted all parties “cease hostilities without delay” for at least 30 days to allow the “safe, unimpeded and sustained delivery of humanitarian aid and services and medical evacuations of the critically sick and wounded.”

Russia’s U.N. ambassador, Vassily Nebenzia, demanded that all parties halt fighting “without delay,” including the IS group, but eventually backed down.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macroncalled on Russian President Vladimir Putin to pressure the Russian-backed Syrian regime to honor the cease-fire in a phone call Sunday.


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