Posts Tagged ‘Turkey’

UN Security Council ‘almost there’ on agreeing Syria cease-fire

February 23, 2018

The UN Security Council. (Reuters)
UNITED NATIONS: The UN Security Council is “almost there” on agreeing a Syria cease-fire, its president said Friday, the day of a crucial vote on the conflict.
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“We are still working on the language, on some of the paragraphs, but we are almost there,” said Kuwait’s Ambassador Mansour Al-Otaibi, who holds the presidency this month.
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The council is set to vote on a draft resolution demanding a 30-day ceasefire in Syria to allow for deliveries of humanitarian aid and medical evacuations.
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The UN vote was scheduled to take place at 4 p.m. GMT but has now been delayed to 7:30 p.m., diplomats said.
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Meanwhile, European Council President Donald Tusk urged Russia and Iran to stop the violence in Syria, whilst the EU called for an immediate ceasefire.
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French president Emmanuel Macron added that France will do all it can with Russia to achieve a truce in Syria. He continued by saying that if no truce is acheived in Syria, “we will continue our efforts”.
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Negotiations went into high gear at the UN to avoid a Russia veto of the text that would establish a truce to allow humanitarian aid deliveries and medical evacuations.
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Russia is ready to agree on a UN Security Council draft resolution in Syria but it needs guarantees on a cease-fire, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said on Friday.
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“There are no guarantees that (the rebels) will not continue shooting at Damascus residential areas,” Lavrov said in a briefing about discussions on a UN ceasefire resolution for Syria.
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“That’s why for the resolution to be efficient — and we are ready to agree on the text which would make it so — we propose a formula which would make the ceasefire real, based on the guarantees of all who are inside eastern Ghouta and outside eastern Ghouta,” Lavrov said.
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Negotiations on the draft have dragged on as hundreds of Syrians have died in a fierce government air campaign in the rebel-held enclave of Eastern Ghouta.
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Sweden and Kuwait presented the proposed measure on Feb. 9.
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The latest text softens language in a key provision to say that the council “demands” a cease-fire, instead of “decides.”
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It also specifies that the cease-fire will not apply to “individuals, groups, undertakings and entities associated” with Al-Qaeda and the Daesh group. A previous version simply mentioned the two terror groups.
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More than 400 people have been killed in the five-day assault by the government on Eastern Ghouta, where UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said 400,000 Syrians are living in “hell on earth.”

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Russia says ready to agree on UN resolution on Syria but with caveats

February 23, 2018

Reuters

MOSCOW (Reuters) – Russia is ready to agree on a U.N. Security Council draft resolution in Syria but it needs guarantees on a ceasefire, Foreign Minister Lavrov said on Friday.

“There are no guarantees that (the rebels) will not continue shooting at Damascus residential areas,” Lavrov said in a briefing about discussions on a U.N. ceasefire resolution for Syria.

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Russia’s UN ambassador, Vasily A. Nebenzya, dismissed reports of attacks on civilians in eastern Ghouta as disinformation and propaganda — at a Security Council meeting on February 22, 2018. Credit Brendan Mcdermid/Reuters

“That’s why for the resolution to be efficient — and we are ready to agree on the text which would make it so — we propose a formula which would make the ceasefire real, based on the guarantees of all who are inside eastern Ghouta and outside eastern Ghouta,” Lavrov said.

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UN Security Council to vote Friday on Syria ceasefire — “400,000 Syrians are living in hell on earth.”

February 23, 2018

 

Smoke billows following Syrian government bombardments on Kafr Batna in the besieged Eastern Ghouta region. (AFP)
UNITED NATIONS: The UN Security Council will vote Friday at 1600 GMT on a draft resolution demanding a 30-day ceasefire in Syria to allow for deliveries of humanitarian aid and medical evacuations, diplomats said.
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A slightly amended text was circulated to council members, but it was unclear whether Russia would support the measure.
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Russian Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia told a council meeting on Thursday that there was “no agreement” on a truce and presented a new raft of amendments.
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Negotiations on the draft have dragged on as hundreds of Syrians have died in a fierce government air campaign in the rebel-held enclave of Eastern Ghouta.
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Sweden and Kuwait presented the proposed measure on February 9.
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The latest text softens language in a key provision to say that the council “demands” a ceasefire, instead of “decides.”
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It also specifies that the ceasefire will not apply to “individuals, groups, undertakings and entities associated” with Al-Qaeda and the Daesh group. A previous version simply mentioned the two terror groups.
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More than 400 people have been killed in the five-day assault by the government on Eastern Ghouta, where UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said
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Cyprus accuses Turkey of blocking ship again in gas exploration standoff — Is Turkey Becoming More Lawless?

February 23, 2018

 

Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades said that Cyprus was determined to press ahead with its plans for oil and gas exploration despite the intervention of the Turkish Navy  in blocking an Eni-chartered drillship. (Reuters)
ATHENS: Cyprus accused Turkey on Friday of threatening to use force against a drillship chartered by Italy’s Eni, in a standoff over hydrocarbons rights in the eastern Mediterranean.
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There was no immediate reaction from Turkey, which has vowed to prevent Greek Cypriots from exploring for oil or gas around the ethnically-split island and says some areas of Cyprus’s offshore maritime zone fall under its jurisdiction.
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On Feb. 9, the Turkish navy on maneuvers in the Mediterranean stopped the Saipem 12000 vessel on its way to drill for gas in the waters off Cyprus, triggering a diplomatic standoff which has underscored tensions in the region over competing claims for offshore resources.
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 Turkish warships stop Italy’s ENI rig in waters off Famagusta: Greek Cypriot reportsTurkish warships on manoeuvers in the Mediterranean Sea blocked the oil exploration vessel Saipem 12000
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Deputy government spokesman Victoras Papadopoulos told the Cyprus News Agency on Friday the ship was heading to the same area, when five Turkish vessels interrupted its course.
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“The drillship was halted by five Turkish warships and after threats of violence launched (by the Turkish side) and the threat of a collision with the drillship … the drillship was compelled to return back,” he said.
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Turkey, which does not have diplomatic relations with Cyprus, this week extended military exercises in the eastern Mediterranean to March 10.
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The Saipem 12000 vessel is currently on its way to Limassol where it is expected to stay for a few days, the agency said. Eni said on Thursday it was likely the ship would have to be moved in the coming days, probably to Morocco.
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Cyprus will officially protest to international forums over the latest incident, Papadopooulos said.
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Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades was expected to discuss the issue with European Union leaders who are meeting in Brussels on Friday. He said this week that Cyprus was determined to press ahead with its plans for oil and gas exploration.
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Eni and France’s Total discovered this month a promising natural gas field off Cyprus, which they said looked geologically similar to the mammoth Zohr field off Egypt.
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Cyprus was split in a Turkish invasion in 1974 after a brief Greek-inspired coup. Peace talks collapsed last year. Greek Cypriots, who are exploring for natural gas, run Cyprus’s internationally recognized government. Turkish Cypriots run a breakaway state in north Cyprus recognized only by Ankara.

 

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Global watchdog to put Pakistan back on terrorist financing watchlist: sources

February 23, 2018

Reuters

ISLAMABAD (Reuters) – A global money-laundering watchdog has decided to place Pakistan back on its terrorist financing watchlist, a government official and a diplomat said on Friday, in a likely blow to Pakistan’s economy and its strained relations with the United States.

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A masked protester sits next to a flag of Pakistan during an anti-Indian protest in Srinagar, November 25, 2016. REUTERS/Danish Ismail

The move is part of a broader U.S. strategy to pressure Pakistan to cut alleged links to Islamist militants unleashing chaos in neighboring Afghanistan and backing attacks in India.

It comes days after reports that Pakistan had been given a three-month reprieve before being placed on the list, which could hamper banking and hurt foreign investment.

The United States has spent the past week lobbying member countries of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) to place Pakistan on a so-called grey list of nations that are not doing enough to combat terrorism financing.

Pakistan had launched last-minute efforts to avoid being placed on the list, such as taking over charities linked to a powerful Islamist figure.

But the campaign proved insufficient and the group decided late on Thursday that Pakistan would be put back on the watchlist, a senior Pakistani official and a diplomat with knowledge of the latest FATF discussions told Reuters.

“The decision was taken yesterday. The chair (of FATF) is expected to make a statement some time this afternoon in Paris,” the diplomat said.

Both officials spoke on condition of anonymity.

Pakistan’s foreign ministry spokesman declined to confirm or deny the news at a regular news briefing on Friday, saying the FATF would make an announcement on its website.

“Let the things come out, and then we can comment on the U.S.-Pakistan relationship,” spokesman Mohammad Faisal said.

Pakistan was on the list for three years until 2015.

PAINFUL CONSEQUENCES?

Earlier in the week China, Turkey, and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) were opposing the U.S.-led move against Pakistan but by late on Thursday, both China and the GCC dropped their opposition, the diplomatic source said.

He added that the financial consequences would not kick in until June, which, in theory, could allow Pakistan time to fix financing issues.

“But the odds of that, particularly in an election year, seem slim,” he added.

Pakistani officials and analysts fear being on the FATF list could endanger Pakistan’s handful of remaining banking links to the outside world, causing real financial pain to the economy just as a general election looms.

Under FATF rules one country’s opposition is not enough to prevent a motion from being successful. Britain, France and Germany backed the U.S. move.

Pakistan has sought to head off its inclusion on the list by amending its anti-terrorism laws and by taking over organizations controlled by Hafiz Saeed, a Pakistan-based Islamist accused by the United States and India of being behind 2008 militant attacks on the Indian city of Mumbai in which 166 people were killed.

On Tuesday, Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif tweeted that Pakistan had received a three-month reprieve, adding that it was “grateful to friends who helped”.

U.S. President Donald Trump last month ordered big cuts in security aid to Pakistan over what the United States sees as its failure to crack down on militants.

Pakistan rejects accusations that it sponsors Taliban militants fighting U.S. forces in neighboring Afghanistan and says it is doing all it can to combat militancy.

Russia, Iran should stop Syrian government violations, Turkey says — “Putin is the Problem”

February 23, 2018

Reuters

ISTANBUL (Reuters) – Turkey’s Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said on Friday that Syrian government air strikes in eastern Ghouta were unacceptable, and called on Russia and Iran to put pressure on Damascus authorities.

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Turkey’s Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu

“Russia and Iran need to stop the Syrian government,” Cavusoglu said, adding that an offensive by pro-government forces in the northern Syrian province of Idlib also violated an agreement between Turkey, Iran and Russia.

Reporting by Ezgi Erkoyun; Editing by Dominic Evans

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Russia’s UN ambassador, Vasily A. Nebenzya, dismissed reports of attacks on civilians in eastern Ghouta as disinformation and propaganda. Credit Brendan Mcdermid/Reuters

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Turkish forces shell convoy headed to Syria’s Afrin region

February 23, 2018

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Turkish-backed Free Syrian Army fighters hold an ammunition belt near the city of Afrin, Syria February 21, 2018. REUTERS/Khalil AshawiREUTERS

BEIRUT/ISTANBUL (Reuters) – The Turkish army struck a convoy entering Syria’s Kurdish-held Afrin region, which Ankara said carried fighters and weapons but Kurdish forces said was made up of civilians entering with food and medicine.

In a statement on Friday, the Turkish military said a fleet of some 30-40 vehicles of the Syrian Kurdish YPG militia had approached the main town of the northwest Afrin region. It said artillery targeted the convoy “carrying terrorists, weapons and ammunition”.

The YPG said the convoy, which arrived in Afrin late on Thursday, had transported civilians from the Jazeera region further east and other towns under the control of Kurdish forces.

Birusk Hasaka, the YPG spokesman in Afrin, said the convoy included hundreds of people. The shelling set some cars ablaze, wounding at least ten people and killing one passenger.

“The convoy was headed to stand in solidarity with the people of Afrin, carrying food aid and medical supplies,” he told Reuters.

Turkey launched an assault last month on Afrin, seeking to drive out the YPG which it deems a menace along its border. It denies hitting civilians during the offensive.

“As always all attention and sensitivity was shown so that civilians were not harmed,” the Turkish military said on Friday. It released aerial video footage showing a series of explosions and smoke rising from a country road.

President Tayyip Erdogan said on Friday the Turkish army was making every effort to avoid harming any civilians, which was extending the duration of the operation. Defence Minister Nurettin Canikli has previously dismissed reports of harmed civilians as false.

Human Rights Watch said on Friday it had investigated three attacks in Afrin last month in which Turkish troops failed to prevent civilian casualties. The air strikes and shelling, on a cluster of tents, a poultry farm, and a house, killed 26 civilians, including 17 children, it said.

“It appears that vulnerable civilians are facing displacement and death because of the way Turkey’s latest offensive is being conducted,” said Lama Fakih, deputy Middle East director at the U.S.-based group.

Since the onset of Syria’s conflict in 2011, the YPG and its allies have carved out three autonomous cantons in the north. Their territory expanded as they defeated Islamic State with U.S. help, although Washington opposes their autonomy plans, as does the Syrian government.

This week, militias allied to Damascus deployed to Afrin to help fight the Turkish assault. The Damascus government has also been allowing Kurdish fighters, civilians, and politicians to pass through its territory to reach Afrin in recent weeks.

A YPG statement accused Turkey of trying to “create a state of terror and force people towards mass displacement” with air strikes and arbitrary shelling in Afrin.

Ankara sees the YPG as an extension of the banned Kurdish PKK movement, which has waged a decades-long insurgency on Turkish soil.

(Reporting by Ellen Francis in Beirut, Rodi Said in northern Syria, and Daren Butler in Ankara; Editing by Peter Graff)

Dutch parliament recognizes 1915 Armenian massacre as genocide

February 22, 2018

THE HAGUE (Reuters) – The Dutch parliament on Thursday passed a motion recognizing as genocide the massacre of as many as 1.5 million Armenians in 1915.

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FILE PHOTO – A general view shows the House of Parliament, in The Hague 

The move, passed with the support of all major parties, risks further straining diplomatic relations between The Hague and Ankara, which have been tense since the Dutch barred a Turkish minister from campaigning in the Netherlands last year.

Nearly a dozen other EU countries have passed similar resolutions. Turkey denies that the killings, which took place at the height of World War One, constitute genocide.

Reporting by Toby Sterling; Editing by Matthew Mpoke Bigg

Leading Turkish human rights defender sentenced for Twitter post

February 22, 2018

AFP

© Mehdi Chebil, FRANCE 24 | File photo of Omer Faruk Gergerlioglu at an Istanbul café in April 2017.

Text by Leela JACINTO 

Latest update : 2018-02-22

A Turkish court on Wednesday sentenced Omer Faruk Gergerlioglu, one of the country’s leading human rights advocates, to two-and-a-half years in jail for a 2016 Twitter post advocating peace.

A former head of Mazlumdar, a prominent Turkish human rights group, Gergerlioglu was sentenced for “disseminating terrorist propaganda”, a charge he denies.

The 53-year-old human rights activist was sentenced for a message he posted on Twitter on October 9, 2016, when he downloaded a photograph of a World Peace Day demonstration featuring Kurdish mothers protesting behind two symbolic coffins, one draped in the Turkish flag and the other in a Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) flag.

The PKK is proscribed as a terror group by Turkey, the EU, the United States and the United Nations.

Gergerlioglu tweeted the picture along with a message for peace in Turkish that said: “Looking at this picture, you will understand that this war has no meaning. Mothers the same, flags different.”

Responding to the charges before a court in the western Turkish city of Izmit, Gergerlioglu maintained that while he supported the peace process between the Turkish government and the PKK  which collapsed in 2015  he never supported terrorism or the use of violence.

“I have never supported terror or terrorist organisations in word or deed. In fact, Mazlumder has made statements condemning the PKK. My posts on Facebook have been pro-peace,” he said.

Trapped in Turkey’s post-coup purges

An Islamist human rights activist, Gergerlioglu served as head of Mazlumder between 2009 and 2011.

Mazlumder  which means “persecuted people” – was founded in 1991 to fight for the rights of Turkey’s Islamists, who feel oppressed by the secular establishment. Following the 1990s conflict between the Turkish government and the PKK, which resulted in the deaths of 30,000 people, the group earned a reputation for its human rights work during the counterinsurgency.

In a message posted on his personal blog on Wednesday, Gergerlioglu condemned the court ruling and vowed to continue fighting for human rights in Turkey. “At a time when the law has been shelved, I do not accept this very unjust ruling, and I leave it to the conscience of the nation. I will continue my struggle so that [people of] all identities and views can enjoy human rights and a free life,” he wrote.

A doctor by profession, Gergerlioglu was fired from his post at a government hospital in Izmit, around 200 kilometres east of Istanbul, on October 13, 2016, after ultranationalist groups launched an online campaign calling for his dismissal.

A vocal critic of the Turkish government’s crackdown on human rights following the failed July 2016 coup, Gergerlioglu was subsequently fired from charitable boards and community organisations in a systematic targeting he described as a “nightmare” in an April 2017 interview with FRANCE 24.

Islamists criticising Erdogan

A columnist and well-known figure across Turkey, Gergerlioglu was a supporter of the ruling AK Party before the 2013 Gezi Park protests, which sparked a deadly crackdown by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s government.

The crackdown led to a split within Turkey’s Islamist ranks, with several Islamist human rights defenders condemning Erdogan’s response to the pro-democracy protests. Others accused Erdogan of abandoning democratic principles and civil liberties.

Gergerlioglu, along with 24 other Islamist public figures, signed a declaration condemning the “state arrogance” toward the protesters.

“Ignoring Gezi Park protesters’ demands, and subsequently labeling them as ‘plunderers’, reflects the arrogance of a political power that believes it is the country’s landlord,” the statement noted.

Gergerlioglu is one of Erdogan’s leading Islamist critics and a respected columnist. Analysts says his statements and comments against the AK Party’s policies, including moves to expand Erdogan’s presidential powers, are considered particularly threatening by the Turkish government.

Air strikes hammer Syria’s Ghouta for fifth day, U.N. mulling ceasefire resolution

February 22, 2018

Reuters

AMMAN (Reuters) – Warplanes pounded the last rebel enclave near Syria’s capital for a fifth day running on Thursday as the U.N. Security Council considered demanding a 30-day truce  across the country to allow emergency aid deliveries and medical evacuations.

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Civil defence help a man from a shelter in the besieged town of Douma in eastern Ghouta in Damascus, Syria, February 22, 2018. REUTERS/Bassam Khabieh

The U.N. envoy for Syria, Staffan de Mistura, pleaded for a ceasefire to halt one of the fiercest air assaults of the seven-year civil war and prevent a “massacre” in the besieged eastern Ghouta region on the outskirts of Damascus.

At least 403 people have been killed in eastern Ghouta district since Sunday night, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights war monitor, with more than 2,116 wounded from the assault by Syria’s military and its allies.

Planes have struck residential areas in the enclave of 400,000 people and, said medical charities, hit more than a dozen hospitals, making it near impossible to treat the wounded.

Panos Moumtzis, the U.N. humanitarian coordinator for Syria, said households in eastern Ghouta were without food, water or electricity in winter cold and 80 percent of the population of the town of Harasta was living underground.

“There is a need for avoiding a massacre, because we will be judged by history,” Mistura said, urging the 15-member Security Council to act. The Council was meeting on Thursday to discussion the situation at the request of Russia.

President Bashar al-Assad’s main ally Russia, which wields a veto on the Security Council, said it could support a 30-day truce, but not one that included the Islamist militants it says the onslaught on eastern Ghouta is meant to target.

RESOLUTION

The Council was considering a resolution, drafted by Kuwait and Sweden, that demands “a cessation of hostilities throughout Syria for all military operations except those directed at the Islamic State … Al Qaeda and Al-Nusra Front” for 30 days to allow aid deliveries and medical evacuations.

    Swedish U.N. Ambassador Olof Skoog said he hoped the Council could vote on the resolution on Thursday. But Russian Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia said he would propose amendments to the text.

    A resolution needs nine votes in favour and no vetoes by Russia, China, the United States, France or Britain to pass.

   “The idea with the Security Council resolution is first and foremost stop the bombing and let aid get in … The Russians can step up, will they?” a U.S. official told Reuters.

Residents of Douma, the biggest town in eastern Ghouta, described plumes of black smoke billowing from residential areas after planes dropped bombs from high altitude.

Searches were under way for bodies amid the rubble in the town of Saqba and elsewhere, said rescuers.

Sara Kayyali, Syria researcher for Human Rights Watch, said the situation in eastern Ghouta was deteriorating ”at an exponential rate“ with over 250 civilians dead in the last 48 hours. ”Witnesses that we are speaking to on the ground are saying that it’s ‘raining bombs’,” she told Reuters in Geneva.

Robert Mardini, Middle East regional director for the International Committee of the Red Cross, said the ICRC was poised to offer emergency medical care in the enclave and carry out evacuations of wounded as soon as conditions permitted.

“We need to get clearance and acceptance by all sides to carry out our work. We have a convoy ready to be sent to eastern Ghouta …as soon as there is reduction in the intensity of the fighting,” he told Reuters at a media briefing in Beirut.

In Syria’s north, where Turkey launched an offensive in the past month against a Kurdish militia, the Kurds said pro-government fighters were now deploying to front lines to help repel the Turkish advance, though assistance would be needed from the Syrian army itself.

A man inspects a damaged house in the besieged town of Douma in eastern Ghouta in Damascus, Syria, February 22, 2018. REUTERS/Bassam Khabieh

Government forces also entered a part of Aleppo controlled by the Kurdish YPG militia, a witness and the Observatory said, although the YPG denied this.

The Kurdish YPG – backed by the United States in other parts of Syria – have sought help recently from the Russian-backed Damascus government to resist the Turkish thrust – an example of the strange bedfellows in a multi-sided conflict that has drawn in neighbors and world powers.

UPHILL

International attention is now focused on the humanitarian emergency in eastern Ghouta, where 400,000 people have been under siege for years and where government bombardments escalated sharply on Sunday, causing mass civilian casualties.

De Mistura said he hoped the Security Council would agree to a ceasefire resolution, but acknowledged it would be hard. “I hope it will. But it’s uphill. But I hope it will. It is very urgent,” he told Reuters at the United Nations in Geneva.

Moscow and Damascus say their assault on eastern Ghouta is necessary to defeat rebels who have been firing mortars on the capital – government territory throughout the war.

“Those who support the terrorists are responsible” for the situation in eastern Ghouta, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told a conference call with reporters. “Neither Russia, nor Syria nor Iran are in that category of states, as they are waging an absolute war against terrorists in Syria.”

 

A White House statement said Washington backed the U.N. call for a ceasefire to allow access for aid and medical evacuations.

“The United States also calls upon Russia and its partners to live up to their obligations with respect to de-escalation zones, particularly those in eastern Ghouta and to end further attacks against civilians in Syria.”

Aid workers and residents say Syrian army helicopters have been dropping “barrel bombs” – oil drums packed with explosives and shrapnel – on marketplaces and medical centers.

Residents and insurgents in eastern Ghouta say Russian planes are also involved. Syrians say they can identify Russian aircraft because they fly at higher altitude than Syrian planes.

Damascus and Moscow deny using barrel bombs or hitting civilians. They say rebels hold civilians as human shields.

Video footage obtained by Reuters showed wreckage at the Al Shifa hospital in the town of Hammouriyeh. Staff said it had been hit by air strikes and artillery.

“The clinics department is out of service, the clinical care unit is out, the surgery unit is out, the incubator unit is out, the pediatric section is out, all of the departments of the hospital are completely out of service,” a man identified as a medical worker said.

“There were casualties among our staff, among patients, among the children we had,” he said, adding that doctors had performed an operation in the rubble because it was impossible to evacuate in time.

SCORCHED EARTH

Opposition-held eastern Ghouta has been under siege by the Syrian army and allied forces since 2013. After government gains since 2015, it is the final rebel bastion near the capital.

Along with Idlib province in the north, part of Aleppo province and a strip in Syria’s southwest, it is one of just a handful of areas left where large numbers of people remain in territory controlled by fighters seeking to overthrow Assad. The president has vowed to regain control of every inch of Syria.

Residents and opposition figures say the Syrian government and its allies are deliberately harming civilians with a “scorched earth policy” to force rebels to surrender.

“They want to break our will and turn Ghouta into another Aleppo but this is their dream,” Yusef Dughmi, a resident in the devastated eastern Ghouta town of Arbin, said overnight.

Reporting by Suleiman Al-Khalidi with; additional reporting by Ellen Francis, Lisa Barrington and Angus McDowall in Beirut, Tuvan Gumrukcu in Ankara, Stephanie Nebehay and Tom Miles in Geneva, Polina Nikolskaya in Moscow and Michelle Nichols at the United Nations; Writing by Peter Graff; editing by Mark Heinrich