Douma (Syria), Feb 26 (AFP) Fresh Syrian regime air strikes on rebel-held Eastern Ghouta killed 10 civilians today as Western powers piled pressure on Russia to make a UN truce deal come into force. Also Read - French Teacher Beheading: Samuel Paty's Killer Was in 'Contact' With Jihadist in Syria
The world body’s chief demanded the immediate implementation of a resolution calling for a 30-day truce, as another suspected chemical attack left a child dead in the enclave. Also Read - Heartbreaking! Syrian Man Makes Up 'Laughing Game' to Distract Daughter from Sounds of Bombs | Watch
“Eastern Ghouta cannot wait. It is high time to stop this hell on earth,” Antonio Guterres told the opening of the 37th session of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva. Also Read - 19 Killed, Including 13 Civilians in Multiple Airstrikes in Syria
Saturday’s UN Security Council resolution had raised hopes that a week-old assault by Russian-backed regime forces that has killed more than 500 civilians might end.
But while the intensity of the bombardment eased a little over the weekend, warplanes have continued their raids and rockets were still being launched at Eastern Ghouta.
Among the latest victims were nine family members killed when their home in Douma, the main town in the enclave, collapsed on their heads.
“Nine civilians from a same family were killed in regime air strikes in Douma, after midnight,” Rami Abdel Rahman, the head of the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitoring organisation, said.
“Some of the bodies are still stuck in the rubble,” he said.
An AFP correspondent in Douma said the bombardment had been very heavy overnight and impeded rescuers in their work.
The regime intensified its air campaign against Eastern Ghouta, which has been outside government control since 2012, at the beginning of the month.
On February 18, the Syrian government further turned up the heat on the territory controlled by Islamist and jihadist groups.
More than 550 civilians, almost a quarter of them children, have since been killed and extensive destruction wrought on the enclave’s towns.
The hospitals and clinics that were not destroyed by strikes struggled to process the more than 2,000 people wounded over the same period.
Residents trapped in the wreckage of their own homes have bled to death as rescuers were targeted even as they tried to save lives.
Much of the nearly 400,000-strong population of Eastern Ghouta has moved underground, with families pitching tents in basements and venturing out only to assess damage to their property and buy food.
On Sunday, a child died and 13 others suffered breathing difficulties and showed symptoms consistent with a chlorine attack after a regime air raid struck the town of Al-Shifuniyah, the Observatory and a medic said.
Russia dismissed reports of a chemical attack as “bogus stories”.
The epic destruction, which has spared none of the towns scattered across the semi-rural area on the outskirts of Damascus, has caused widespread outrage.
The world has remained largely powerless however to stop one of the bloodiest episodes in Syria’s seven-year civil conflict.
France and Germany have been at the forefront of Western efforts to clinch a ceasefire but the resolution voted on Saturday has remained a dead letter.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron are now seeking to convince Russia to use its influence on Damascus to ensure the truce if enforced.
They stressed in a telephone call with Russian President Vladimir Putin “that it is crucial that the (UN) resolution be implemented quickly and comprehensively.” France’s Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian will also go to Moscow on Tuesday.
The regime has reinforced its deployment around the enclave over the past month, raising fears of a ground offensive that aid groups warned could cause even worse suffering.
With the Islamic State group’s once sprawling “caliphate” now wiped off the map, the regime looks bent on completing its reconquest and Eastern Ghouta is a key target.
The jihadists only control an estimated three percent of Syria territory, small pockets which various anti-IS forces continue to flush out.
The Observatory reported that at least 25 civilians were killed in a wave of air strikes on one of the very last pockets of holdout IS fighters in eastern Syria on Sunday.
It said the strikes were carried out by the US-led coalition but a US military spokesman said “there were no reported coalition strikes conducted in Syria” that day.
Another flashpoint in Syria has been the northern region of Afrin, where Kurdish forces have come under attack from neighbouring Turkey since January 20.
Turkey has warned it did not consider that the UN ceasefire resolution, which is not limited to Eastern Ghouta but whose wording excludes operations against terror groups, should affect its offensive on Afrin.
Macron on Monday called Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who considers the Syrian Kurdish militia to be “terrorist”, to stress that the truce should be implemented there too. (AFP) UZM UZM
This is published unedited from the PTI feed.