(UPDATE) UN RIGHTS CHIEF WARNS SYRIAN LEADERS AS NEW BOMBS HIT EASTERN GHOUTA
The attacks on Syrian civilians in rebel-held Eastern Ghouta could amount to crimes against humanity, UN rights chief Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein warned Friday as government force bombarded the besieged rebel enclave near the capital.
The attacks were launched despite a daily short truce declared by Syria’s ally Russia, a monitor and activists reported.
At an emergency debate of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, High Commissioner Zeid said that “What we are seeing in Eastern Ghouta and elsewhere in Syria are likely war crimes and potentially crimes against humanity.”
“The wheels of justice may be slow, but they do grind,” Zeid said, warning perpetrators that they will eventually be held accountable before a court.
While Zeid noted that rebels in Eastern Ghouta have also launched fatal attacks on Damascus, he focused on the government’s “relentless” attacks on the rebel enclave, including on 17 health facilities in recent days.
Amid the airstrikes, shelling, and alleged chemical attack in the region where some 400,000 civilians are trapped, thousands of children are acutely malnourished while humanitarian aid shipments cannot get through, said Zeid.
Western countries at the rights body drafted a resolution that condemns the government attacks and demands the immediate start of a month-long truce across Syria that the UN Security Council has been seeking.
This week, Russia, a major ally of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, declared a daily five-hour pause in hostilities in Eastern Ghouta in order to allow the evacuation of civilians from the enclave.
However, local activists have reported government attacks on the region since the truce originally began on Tuesday.”
At least 12 rockets landed in areas on the outskirts of Douma and Harasta [in Eastern Ghouta] after the humanitarian truce started its fourth day,” Rami Abdel-Rahman, the head of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, said Friday.
Clashes were also reported between Syrian forces and rebels from the faction of Jaish al-Islam in the south-eastern sector of Ghouta.
“We are registering airstrikes and shelling in Eastern Ghouta targeting mainly residential areas,” Saraj of the volunteer rescue team, the White Helmets, told dpa by phone from the region.
At least 103 civilians, including 22 children, have been killed in the attacks on Eastern Ghouta since the start of the Russian truce, Saraj added.
He accused government warplanes of having dropped 71 barrels packed with TNT explosives in parts of Eastern Ghouta over the past four days.Al-Assad’s forces have besieged Eastern Ghouta for more than four years.
More than 650 civilians have been killed in the enclave since February 18 when Syrian forces started an intense campaign there, according to the observatory’s estimates.
Source: NAM News Networkhttps://syrianewsgazette.com/update-un-rights-chief-warns-syrian-leaders-as-new-bombs-hit-eastern-ghouta/General