• Russia calls for UNSC meeting over situation in Syria's Eastern Ghouta

The Russian military has announced that armed groups in Syria's terrorist-held Eastern Ghouta are preventing civilians from exiting the conflict zone.

According to Press TV, in a statement released on Wednesday, the Russian military announced that talks aimed at peacefully resolving the situation in Eastern Ghouta near the capital Damascus had broken down.

"Calls by the Russian ceasefire monitoring center for illegal armed rebel groups in Eastern Ghouta to cease resistance, lay down their weapons, and regularize their status have produced no result," said the statement.

"A critical humanitarian and socio-economic situation is developing in Eastern Ghouta," it added.

Meanwhile, Russia has called for a UN Security Council meeting to be held on the situation in Eastern Ghouta.

Russian UN Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia told the Council that the open meeting would permit all involved parties to "present their vision and understanding of the situation and come up with ways of getting out of this situation."

He added that the Western appeals to halt the violence in Eastern Ghouta were one-sided and paid no attention to the Syrian government's position.

"There are terrorists there who the Syrian army is fighting and the terrorists are shelling Damascus," he said, adding "that is being neglected."

"It's a complex situation and not just a one-way street," he added.

Eastern Ghouta is included in a deal between Turkey, Russia and Iran to establish de-escalation zones in Syria with the aim of reducing violence in the war-torn Arab country.

Earlier in the day, Moscow denied a US claim that Russian fighter jets carried out airstrikes in Eastern Ghouta and reportedly killed scores of civilians since the start of the week.

The so-called Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a pro-opposition monitoring group, claimed that at least 250 civilians had been killed in the attacks.

Earlier in the week, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov blamed “armed provocations” by Takfiri al-Nusra Front terrorists for the situation in Eastern Ghouta.

The al-Nusra Front terrorists, he said, are hampering the evacuation of civilians from Eastern Ghouta, where they use them as “human shields” while keeping up attacks on Damascus’ civil facilities.

“It took enormous effort to reach agreements on medical evacuation, first of all, of children and people needing emergency medical assistance. But subsequent efforts to organize large-scale evacuation of civilians from that area encountered Jabhat al-Nusra’s refusal as it seeks to keep these people as a human shield," Lavrov said

Russia has been lending aerial support to Syria’s counter-terrorism operations since September 2015.

The US and its allies have been bombarding what they call Daesh positions inside Syria since September 2014 without any authorization from the Damascus government or a UN mandate.

The strikes, however, have on many occasions resulted in civilian casualties and failed to fulfill their declared aim of countering terrorism.

ME

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Feb 22, 2018 06:12 UTC
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