Russian President Vladimir Putin has ordered a daily cease-fire in Syria but it has not gone down well with the besieged residents of Ghouta.
Putin has responded to UN pressure to end the bloodshed in Syria’s eastern Ghouta by ordering daily “humanitarian pauses”, and helping to arrange an evacuation corridor for civilians in the area.
In abiding by Russia’s directive, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s forces will honour the UN’s 30-day cease-fire resolution but only for five hours each day.
Between 9am and 2pm, the ruthless military assault on the rebel-held suburb of Damascus will be suspended, and outside of those hours the air strikes which have killed more than 550 residents and wounded more than 2000 others (according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights) over the last eight days will continue unabated.
“With the aim of eliminating casualties among the civilian population of eastern Ghouta, a daily humanitarian pause is being introduced from Feb. 27, that is tomorrow, from 09:00 until 14:00,” Russia’s RIA news agency quoted Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu as saying on Monday.
“A humanitarian corridor will be created for the exit of civilians. The coordinates (of the corridor) have been prepared and will be announced in the near future.”
The government offensive, which has been ongoing since 2013 and has intensified recently, is backed by the Russian Air Force.
— Kenneth Roth (@KenRoth) February 26, 2018
So, it’s no surprise the civilians unable to flee the region described as “hell on earth” aren’t exactly gushing about Putin’s generosity.
“It is like legitimising the strikes on civilians,” said local activist Firas Abdullah.
“They will be so kind to grant us a mere five hours when they will not bomb us. Then the rest of the day, they will bomb us as usual. It is like a permission to kill.”
Mohammed Alloush, the political leader of the Army of Islam, which is the most influential opposition group in eastern Ghouta, said the UN has been undermined by Moscow’s refusal to accept the full terms of the resolution.
“This (Russian) decision nullifies the legitimacy of the United Nations,” Alloush told The Associated Press.
“We want a total and lasting cease-fire in accordance with the UN resolution and one that opens corridors for humanitarian aid.”
UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres told the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva that, “Eastern Ghouta cannot wait. It is high time to stop this hell on earth”.