UN Security Council calls for 30-Day Ceasefire in Syria’s East Ghouta

By Juan Cole | (Informed Comment) | – –

The United Nations Security Council finally passed a resolution calling for a 30-day ceasefire between the Damascus government and the al-Qaeda-dominated guerrillas in Eastern Ghouta. UN Secretary-General António Guterres reminded all sides of their absolute duty in international law to safeguard the life of innocent noncombatants.

Downtown Damascus has taken mortar shelling from the rebel-held enclave virtually every day, while the government of Bashar al-Assad and his Russian allies have subjected the neighborhood to intensive airstrikes and artillery shelling in recent days, disregarding civilian welfare and killing over 300.

The Turkish press, which tends to support the rebel side in Syria, reported that despite the UNSC resolution, the Syrian air force launched two strikes against Duma in East Ghouta on Sunday morning.

The population of greater Damascus may have ballooned up to some 5 million during the civil war, given that the Syrian Arab Army provided fair security there. (Syria’s resident population is 18 million, with 4 million abroad). East Ghouta before the war had 400,000 people but my guess is that nowadays it must be more like 300,000 or less. People in East Ghouta are surrounded and trapped in the enclave and cannot flee, so bombing them is like shooting fish in a barrel.

The neighborhood went into rebellion after the 2011 youth protests, and gradually the Saudi Arabian government gave the radical Salafi Army of Islam weapons and training and pushed it to assert itself in the district. The al-Qaeda-linked Syrian Conquest Front (formerly Nusra) is also ensconced there. So too is a smaller group, the Rahman Brigades.

The UNSC resolution explicitly exempted military operations against ISIL, al-Qaeda and other terrorist groups from the cease-fire. Russia and Syria see virtually everyone in East Ghouta as a terrorist, however, and to be fair the paramilitaries there are linked to extremists, so that grounds exist for continued military operations against the enclave.

While pro-Russian and pro-Assad propagandists on the internet portray the entire population as terrorists and radicals and make excuses for starving out or targeting or recklessly harming civilians, the fact is that bombing civilian residential areas is a war crime. (Exactly the same authors and web sites rightly condemn Israel’s two similar campaigns in Gaza in 2008-9 and 20014 but go out of their way to excuse Russia and Syria).


Bonus video:

PBS: “UN passes Syria ceasefire resolution after strikes in Eastern Ghouta kill hundreds”

Posted in Featured,Syria | 4 Responses | Print |

4 Responses

  1. Whether an action is ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ appears currently to be largely a matter of perspective. Discussion in this thorny area is frequently cut short by someone saying that two wrongs don’t make a right while others nod sagely. Matter closed. It’s an invalid response, hovering around a false syllogism because the suggestion never was that two wrongs make a right. Two wrongs are always two wrongs. The real question is why does the UN, for instance, occupy itself so assertively with the way the Syrian government responds to mortar fire from a suburb of their capital when Israel’s periodic cull of Palestinians for a few rockets launched by Hamas or the present condition of the population of Yemen are treated so differently. The answer, of course, is that reactions depend on US policy. Pressed the other day about the apparent imperviousness of Bahrain and Turkey to expressions of US concern about their human rights issues, the spokesperson had what struck me as a singularly illuminating reply.

    MS NAUERT: Not every time. That’s the reality of this. Not every time do we get our way. Not every time do governments listen and comply with what the United States asks them to do.
    link to state.gov

    Will the day come when all actions contrary to International Law are deal with evenly?

    • A child in East Ghouta died Sunday in a suspected chlorine gas attack:

      link to globalnews.ca

      One recalls the “red line” of Pres. Obama being drawn and the chemical attack in 2013 by the Syrian Arab Army that killed hundreds in East Ghouta.

      Assad even after supposedly destroying chemical weapons stockpiles upon agreement, still had his forces use poison gas against civilians in various locations within Syria despite warnings from President Obama and the international community.

      One may also recall the air strike ordered by Pres. Trump last year at a Syrian military base after a deadly poison gas attack targeted civilians – it has not deterred the Assad regime from continuing to commit war crimes against his own people using chemical weapons.

      Obviously the Baathists in Damascus are not reluctant to anger the U.S. government or the United Nations Security Council by their deployment of outlawed chemical weapons such as chlorine gas against civilians.

  2. How in the hell can “everyone stand on principle and demand it”? Most of Congress consists of millionaire puppets controlled by the corrupt billionaires and their corporations.

    Solution: Take the money out of politics. Prohibit millionaires, members of families with a family yearly income over $400,000 and individuals with a wealth over 2 million from holding any public office, appointed or elected. I would also prohibit lawyers/attorneys, they are good at telling long stories(more money) and manipulating words. Suggest only educators or the equivalent be elected and appointed.

    I suggest that all commenters be required to give their best solutions to each problem that they comment on or else they won’t be published. I believe as many do that the USA and the world is heading for a major depression which always enable the rich to get richer and gain more controlled.

    America & the World needs a Patrick Henry for each country.

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