Russian President Vladimir Putin has ordered the implementation of a daily ceasefire in Syria’s Damascus suburb of Eastern Ghouta from Tuesday and the creation of a “humanitarian corridor” through which civilians can leave the militant-held area.
“On the instructions of the Russian president, with the goal of avoiding civilian casualties in Eastern Ghouta, from February 27 — tomorrow — from 9.00 to 14.00 local time there will be a humanitarian pause,” Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said at a ministry meeting in the capital Moscow on Monday.
Putin was also quoted as saying that there should be similar pauses in the southeastern Syrian town of al-Tanf in Homs province and in Rukban, near the Jordanian border “so that civilians can return to their homes unhindered and begin to rebuild their civilian lives.”
The announcement came two days after the United Nations Security Council unanimously voted in favor of a resolution demanding a 30-day truce in Syria “without delay” to allow aid access and medical evacuations.
The resolution was adopted by 15 votes to none, after several delays and a flurry of last-minute negotiations.
Eastern Ghouta, a besieged area on the outskirts of Damascus which is home to some 400,000 people, has witnessed deadly violence over the past few days, with foreign-sponsored terrorists launching mortar attacks on the Syrian capital in the face of an imminent humiliating defeat. Western powers, however, blame the Syrian government and Russia for the crisis.
In the meantime, a suspected new chemical attack has reportedly hit Eastern Ghouta just after Russia warned that militants were planning a gas attack there to pin it on the Syrian government.
Shortly after Moscow warns of militant plans to stage a gas attack and blame it on government, militant sources say a child is dead and several people have suffered symptoms of exposure to chlorine gas in Eastern Ghouta.
Militant sources were quoted as saying that several people suffered symptoms consistent with exposure to chlorine gas in al-Shayfouniyah area on Sunday, and one child was killed.
The Syrian army launched a ground operation later in the day against al-Nusra Front and other terrorist groups in the Eastern Ghouta region, wresting control over some areas.
The UN-brokered truce does not apply to operations against the Daesh, al-Qaeda and al-Nusra Front along with “individuals, groups, undertakings and entities” associated with the terrorist groups.
It also allows the Syrian government’s operation to continue against terrorists in Idlib province, the country’s largest remaining militant stronghold.