Merkel hopes United Nations will agree on Syria ceasefire this evening

Glen Norman
February 24, 2018

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said Friday that Russia is ready to vote for a ceasefire resolution but that the United States and its allies won't provide guarantees that militants in Syria will observe it, according to Russia's state-run RT outlet.

A draft resolution aimed at ending the carnage in the eastern Ghouta district and elsewhere in Syria will be put up for a vote in the 15-member council at noon (1700 GMT) on Saturday, Kuwait's U.N. Ambassador Mansour Ayyad Al-Otaibi said.

A vote, if passed, would pave the way for the truce to go into effect 72 hours after the adoption of the measure, and for aid deliveries and medical evacuations to begin 48 hours after that.

Residents say they find it hard to describe what life is like under the intense bombardment.

Only in Eastern ghouta is home to about 400,000 people.

Earlier Friday, French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel sent a joint letter to Russian President Vladimir Putin, appealing to him to support the draft resolution and saying it is now time to act.

There was no immediate comment from the Syrian military.

Friday's civilian death toll in the enclave - under siege by the Syrian army since 2013 - totalled 41, including 17 children, according to the Observatory. "The whole E [elected] 10 members, we are here just to show that we are all united and we want the draft to be adopted today at 2:30 p.m.", he said.

Medical charities say more than a dozen hospitals have been hit, making it almost impossible to treat the wounded. "This is the only thing I can say", said Bilal Abu Salah, 22, whose wife is five months pregnant with their first child in Douma. "Civilian casualties and destructions have been reported", the statement said.

"The massacre in Eastern Ghouta must stop now", Mogherini said in a statement. The emergency service, which operates in rebel territory, says it has pulled out hundreds of people from under rubble in recent days.

Outside UN headquarters in NY, a coalition of aid groups put up three billboards, inspired by the film "Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri" that said "500,000 dead in Syria".

Hamza Birqdar, the military spokesman for the Jaish al-Islam rebel faction, said it had thwarted nine attacks by pro-government militias trying to storm a front in the southeast of the Ghouta. It also calls for the lifting of sieges in four specific locations, including eastern Ghouta.

In a concession to Russian Federation, the latest draft of the resolution states that operations against Islamic State, al Qaeda, and "individuals, groups..." associated with the extremist groups will not be included.

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