The UN Security Council on Saturday demanded a 30-day truce across Syria “without delay” as rescuers in the country’s eastern Ghouta region said bombing would not let up long enough for them to count bodies during one of the bloodiest air assaults of the seven-year war.
UN humanitarian chief Mark Lowcock welcomed the unanimous vote by the 15-member council saying: “Words must now quickly become action — any cessation of hostilities must be real. Attacks must stop.”
Shortly after the vote, warplanes struck a town in eastern Ghouta, the last rebel enclave near Syria’s capital, an emergency service and a war monitoring group said. Warplanes have pounded the region for seven straight days while residents holed up in basements.
While Syrian ally Russia supported the adoption of the UN resolution, Russian UN Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia cast doubt on its feasibility. Previous ceasefire deals on the ground have had a poor record of ending fighting in Syria, where President Bashar al-Assad’s military has gained the upper hand.
“What is necessary is for the demands of the Security Council to be underpinned by concrete on-the-ground agreements,” Nebenzia told the council after the vote.
Syria’s permanent representative to the UN Bashar Jaafari said Damascus will reserve the right to “respond as it deems appropriate” to any attacks by “terrorist armed groups” against civilians in any part of Syria.
After several days of delay and last-minute negotiations to win the support of Russia, the council adopted the resolution — drafted by Sweden and Kuwait — demanding hostilities cease for 30-days “without delay” to allow aid access and medical evacuations.
U.S. accuses Russia of stalling tactics
Russia and the U.S. traded accusations after the resolution demanding the ceasefire across Syria to deliver humanitarian aid to millions and evacuate the critically ill and wounded.
U.S. Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley accused Russia of employing stalling tactics in order to delay the vote on Thursday.
Nebenzia refused these claims, claiming that it took his country “so much time to reach an agreement on the resolution due to the fact that we did not support what was enshrined in there”.
Following the passing of the resolution, Haley called for unity, asking Russia to join the United States in “pushing for the political settlement” of the conflict in Syria.
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