MOSCOW – Russia urged countries backing Syrian opposition groups on Sunday to guarantee that a ceasefire approved by the United Nations was upheld, but made no mention of Syrian government forces’ continued bombings of rebel-held areas near Damascus.
In a statement, Russia’s foreign ministry said it trusted armed opposition groups would halt their military activities and allow humanitarian convoys to pass through quickly and safely, as instructed by a resolution approved on Saturday by the UN Security Council ordering an immediate 30-day ceasefire throughout Syria.
Hours after the UN vote, Syrian government forces, which are supported by Russia, bombed Eastern Ghouta, the last remaining rebel-held area outside Damascus where more than 500 people, including 127 children, have been killed in airstrikes over the last week.
The Russian foreign ministry claimed that in recent days, armed groups in Eastern Ghouta had rejected a ceasefire deal and refused to allow civilians to leave the area.
According to the UN, some 400,000 people remain trapped in the network of towns and satellite cities on the outskirts of Damascus which has been under siege by forces loyal to the Syrian government for several years, preventing much-needed food and humanitarian supplies from entering.
Moscow and Damascus both insist that Eastern Ghouta is controlled by militias loyal to the al-Nusra Front (al-Qaeda’s former Syrian branch, also known as Jabhat Fateh al-Sham), which is considered a terrorist group by the UN and is therefore not included in the ceasefire.