US, Russia trade accusations over Syria ceasefire

Assad regime continues to hit Eastern Ghouta

Civilians in Syria's Eastern Ghouta have continued to shun Russia's offer to quit the besieged enclave, as rebels and Moscow blamed each other for the humanitarian deadlock.

Syrian refugees living in Athens gather in support of the victims in besieged Eastern Ghouta. UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres described the circumstances in Eastern Ghouta as hell on Earth.

The European Union´s top diplomat has written to the foreign ministers of Russia, Iran and Turkey urging them to uphold a ceasefire in eastern Ghouta and allow aid into besieged areas.

The Syrian Civil Defense - a volunteer rescue group also known as the White Helmets - said a child was killed in the attacks. "In order to end the humanitarian catastrophe, all relevant parties should patiently hold consultations, shelve disputes, actively seek consensus and strive to fully implement the cease-fire resolution passed by the U.N. Security Council", the Chinese analysis read.

Despite the step, the United Nations demanded that all sides must implement the total truce approved on Saturday, and said some 40 trucks loaded with aid were waiting for the violence to stop.

Lowcock said the United Nations and its partners were ready with trucks full of humanitarian aid and medical evacuation plans and could begin work once the guns fall silent and access is granted in Syria. "We hope that you don't cooperate with the terrorists", the presenter reading from the flier said.

A military officer at the deserted checkpoint said ground fighting on the edges of Eastern Ghouta, where most anti-regime fighters are deployed, may change the dynamic.

"Medical and other essential services are absent and access for humanitarian workers to the city remains precariously limited because the conditions are so unsafe", Lowcock said.

Kelley Currie, the USA ambassador on the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations, speaks during a Security Council meeting on the situation in Syria, Feb. 22, 2018, at U.N. headquarters.

"This is cynical, callous and in flagrant defiance of the demands of [Resolution] 2401", said US envoy Kelley Currie.

The Syrian regime has accused the Islamist and jihadist groups inside Ghouta of sabotaging the initiative by shelling the designated humanitarian corridors to hold civilians as human shields.

Affected volunteers receive treatment after a gas attack on al-Shifunieh village, in Eastern Ghouta.

Eastern Ghouta has been under control of armed opposition groups since 2013 - two years into a popular uprising in Syria calling for the removal of al-Assad.

"I have to say I know no humanitarian actor. who thinks the five hours is enough for us to be able to deliver relief into eastern Ghouta and to organise orderly medical evacuations out", he said of the Russian unilateral declaration. At the same time, Moscow is also testing its weapons in Syria.

Several council members criticized the Russian proposal.

In the early years of the war, China and Russian Federation defended the Syrian government by using their privilege as permanent U.N. Security Council members to veto actions against Assad. "The cessation of hostilities is for at least 30 days, every day, all day".

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