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Despite a UN Security Council-approved ceasefire in Syria, the regime has reportedly carried out fresh airstrikes in eastern Ghouta. More than 500 civilians have been killed in government raids in the past week.
On Sunday, the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported that the regime of President Bashar al-Assad has carried out new airstrikes on eastern Ghouta's rebel-held suburbs despite the UN Security Council's resolution on a 30-day humanitarian truce across the country.
Iranian General Mohammad Baqeri said Tehran and Damascus would respect the UN resolution, according to the Tasnim news agency, but the truce did not cover parts of the Damascus suburbs "held by the terrorists."
Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Bekir Bozdag said the UN resolution would not affect Turkey’s offensive against Kurdish fighters in Syria’s Kurdish-held Afrin region.
French and German calls
French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel spoke on the phone with Russian President Vladimir Putin in order to stress "that it is crucial that the (UN) resolution be implemented quickly and comprehensively."
"They call on Russia in this context to exercise maximum pressure on the Syrian regime to achieve an immediate suspension of air raids and fighting...particularly to allow humanitarian aid into and evacuations out of the war zone," Merkel's office said in a statement on Sunday.
There were also reports on Sunday of clashes between regime forces and Jaish al-Islam fighters in the south of eastern Ghouta, according to Rami Abdul Rahman, the head of the Syrian Observatory.
Rahman, however, admitted the situation was more peaceful in eastern Ghouta than before the imposition of the ceasefire.
"Eastern Ghouta has seen its quietest night in a week," Rahman said, adding the calm was short-lived as the Assad regime started bombarding parts of the enclave Sunday morning.
"The violence is limited compared to the escalation seen over the past week," Rahman told the Deutsche Presse-Agentur news agency.
A total of 127 children are among the 513 dead in the bombing campaign that the regime launched last Sunday on the enclave just outside Damascus, the Observatory said, claiming the airstrikes were being carried out by Syrian and Russian forces.
Control of eastern Ghouta is shared between two main Islamist factions, while Syria's former al-Qaida affiliate is also present.
Russia has been pressing for a negotiated withdrawal of rebel fighters and their families like the one that saw the government retake full control of Aleppo in December 2016. However, rebel groups in eastern Ghouta have so far refused.
The enclave is completely surrounded by government-controlled territory and its 400,000 residents are unwilling or unable to flee the siege.
shs,es/jlw (AFP, AP, dpa)