During the first daily five-hour truce, two civilians lost their lives as air-raids continued unabated.

By Joe McDonough

Posted on February 28, 2018

Two people have died during the first five-hour cease-fire in Eastern Ghouta on Tuesday, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

It is understood at least 15 air-raids were carried out in the region during the ‘humanitarian pause’ window of 9am to 2pm, leaving 10 wounded, while “helicopters dropped four explosive barrels on areas in Al-Shifonyyah, and the regime forces fired four shells on areas in Jesrin town, which resulted in the death of a child and a citizen as well as the injury of six other citizens”.

Resident and activist Bilal Saleh said: “It is 11.30am and the Russian truce should have started, but all kinds of bombs are still falling on us.”

The pause was ordered by Moscow as a compromise, after the UN Security Council voted unanimously in favour of a resolution calling for a 30-day cease-fire in Syria.

Russia’s Defence Ministry released a statement claiming the rebels broke the temporary truce.

“During the ‘humanitarian pause’ fighters from armed groups continued attacking the positions of the government forces in the areas of Hazrama and Nashabia settlements and after 1pm went on the offensive in other directions too,” the statement read.

“These actions were accompanied by intensive artillery fire and small arms fire.”

Moscow also accused the opposition fighters of firing mortar shells at a ‘humanitarian corridor’, which is controlled by the Syrian government forces.

“Currently there is intensive fire from the militants and not a single civilian has left,” General Viktor Pankov told Russian agency Interfax.

Of course, civilians are fearful of using the corridor as there is no assurance of freedom on the other side, having lived for years in a rebel-held enclave.

“Anyone would face a number of dangers at any moment if they step into Damascus, either by arrest or by questioning family members… We in Ghouta we have no way out,” said Nemaat Mohsen, who lives in the town of Saqba in eastern Ghouta.

Jens Laerke, spokesman for the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, said “the situation on the ground is not such that… convoys can go in or medical evacuations can come out”.