European Union in letter to Iran, Russia, Turkey demands end to Syria fighting

Valeriy Sharifulin  TASS

Valeriy Sharifulin TASS

Mr Abu Bashir said the shelling still struck civilians living in villages near the clashes.

Earlier on Thursday, the governmental forces repelled the militants' attacks during the humanitarian pause in Eastern Ghouta, he said.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the pause on Wednesday in eastern Ghouta, near Damascus, was preceded by a barrage of air strikes in the towns of Harasta and Douma, where Syrian troops are trying to push ahead with a ground offensive.

Bassam Abu Bashir, an anaesthetist in a hospital in eastern Ghouta, said the shelling continued on Monday and Tuesday but has largely spared his central hometown of Saqba, and he had to deal with fewer injuries than in the past week.

France's foreign ministry called on Russian Federation and Iran, Assad's other military ally, to exert "maximum pressure" on the Syrian government to implement the 30-day ceasefire.

A senior Western diplomat said Russian Federation appeared intent on a repeat of Aleppo in eastern Ghouta by evacuating the area and then killing "the terrorists even if it's not just Nusra", a reference to a jihadist group with Al-Qaida links.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has said that Moscow will continue to help Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's government to defeat what he called the "terrorist threat".

Mr Putin blamed the rebels, saying they were preventing civilians from leaving the area, and suggested Russian Federation would not "endlessly tolerate" the situation there.

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France is pressing Russian Federation for more specific measures enforcing the ceasefire so that crucial aid can be delivered to Eastern Ghouta.

State-run Anadolu news agency quoted Turkish presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalin as saying Erdogan had asked for the evacuation of around 700 people from eastern Ghouta a month ago.

At the same time, rebel groups have been known to use the blockade on humanitarian access for their own political or financial gain, Lund said.

In a letter sent to the United Nations on Tuesday, they said they were willing to expel the jihadist factions that also have a footprint in Eastern Ghouta. Shall we endlessly tolerate that? "On some days missile and mortar strikes reach 50-60", Putin said. "No, of course not", he said.

USA representative Kelley Currie accused the regime of violating the ceasefire, while Russian ambassador Vassily Nebenzia blamed the rebels. Mark Lowcock, the United Nations under secretary-general for humanitarian affairs, said trucks loaded with supplies had been poised to go to 10 besieged areas including Douma, the main town in the enclave, since Saturday.

"Demands to overnight, immediately halt hostilities attest to a failure to understand realities on the ground or a deliberate exploitation of human tragedy", Nebenzia said.

The contentious Security Council meeting four days after members adopted a resolution demanding a cease-fire "without delay" for at least 30 days throughout Syria to deliver humanitarian aid and evacuate the critically ill and wounded reflected frustration and anger on both sides at the continued fighting and bombing.

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