Published: Thu, March 01, 2018
Worldwide | By Sean Reid

Syria conflict: Airstrikes follow United Nations ceasefire vote but relative calm returns

Syria conflict: Airstrikes follow United Nations ceasefire vote but relative calm returns

Russia's Ambassador to the UN Vasily Nebenzya speaks as US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley listens after a Security Council vote during a United Nations Security Council meeting on a ceasefire in Syria February 24, 2018 in NY.

"Our government will reserve the right to respond as it deems appropriate in case those terrorist armed groups are targeting civilians in any part of Syria with even one single missile", said BasharJa'afari.

With Russia's backing, the council voted unanimously to demand the truce "without delay" as Syrian war planes pounded the rebel-held enclave of Eastern Ghouta.

Iran's army chief-of-staff said Sunday the UN Security Council resolution demanding a ceasefire in Syria does not cover "terrorist groups" in Eastern Ghouta and they would continue to be targeted by the Syrian military.

Nebenzia accused the USA of using the fight against terrorists for "geopolitical agendas with dubious legitimacy".

In separate statements, Jaish al-Islam and Failaq al-Rahman, pledged to protect aid convoys that come into the besieged rebel enclave near Damascus.

Rebels said they clashed with government forces on several front lines in the early hours of Sunday. AFP PHOTO / Ammar SULEIMANAMMAR SULEIMAN/AFP/Getty Images Members of the Syrian Civil Defense group help residents during airstrikes and shelling by Syrian government forces, in Ghouta, a suburb of Damascus, Syria.

Control of Eastern Ghouta is shared between two main factions, while Syria's former Al-Qaeda affiliate is also present. Eastern Ghouta is part of de-escalation zones endorsed by Turkey, Russia and Iran, where acts of aggression are prohibited.

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Reports said the sponsors of the resolution, Kuwait and Sweden, amended the text to get Russian support, dropping a demand that the truce take effect in 72 hours and stating "without delay" instead.

Calls for a ceasefire in Syria, outlined in a UN Security Council resolution urging a 30-day truce, were apparently being ignored Sunday in the besieged suburbs of Damascus.

Ghouta-based opposition activist Anas al-Dimashqi says the night was calm but warplanes and drones are still flying over rebel-held areas. "Remember that each one of you made a decision to fight to defend the truth, dignity, and to save Syria and its people", he added.

"I therefore issue an urgent appeal for an immediate halt to violence to allow access to humanitarian aid - food and medicines - and the evacuation of the wounded and sick".

Russia, an ally of Syria's government, wanted changes, while Western diplomats accused Moscow of stalling for time. However, the United Nations resolution is seen as something of a diplomatic victory for the U.S. and its partners over Russia's efforts to tone down the wordings of the draft.

The Observatory said that since the latest wave of bombardment began on Sunday, 510 civilians, including 127 children and 75 women, have been killed in eastern Ghouta.

Meanwhile, Syrian state media said rebels in Ghouta have killed at least 16 civilians in eastern districts of the city over the past week.

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