The United Nations Security Council on Saturday unanimously called for a 30-day cease-fire in Syria, with Russia agreeing to the temporary hiatus only after forcing two days of delays that critics said allowed ally Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to pursue a renewed bombing campaign blamed for hundreds of recent deaths in a rebel-controlled area.
The nationwide truce would begin “without delay,” a victory for the United States and other nations that resisted Russian efforts to push back the start or soften the terms.
It came after intense negotiations to persuade Russia not to use its veto power in the Security Council. Moscow had blocked 11 previous Syria resolutions. The United States and others accused Moscow of protecting the Assad government and its bombing campaign in the Damascus suburb of Eastern Ghouta while allowing a horrific humanitarian disaster to continue.
It will be up to Russia to use its influence with Assad to enforce the cease-fire, which would allow desperately needed deliveries of emergency supplies and medical evacuations of the seriously injured and sick.
Activists and monitors say more than 500 civilians have been killed in the last week in Eastern Ghouta, in what is considered the fiercest assault in seven years of civil war. Each day of delay in imposing the cease-fire allowed Assad’s forces to level more of the largely rebel-controlled area.
(c) 2018, The Washington Post · Carol Morello, Anne Gearan