Russian-Ordered ‘Pause’ Goes Into Effect East of Damascus

A boy holds a placard during a protest in solidarity with residents of the Syrian capital’s eastern suburb of Ghouta, in front the Russian embassy in Beirut, Lebanon on Sunday. (AP Photo/Bilal Hussein)

A Russian-ordered “humanitarian pause” has gone into effect to allow civilians to leave a rebel-held enclave near Damascus, but there were no immediate signs of any corridors set up for people to use.

Rami Aburrahman of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says that no violence was reported in the early hours of Tuesday in the enclave, known as eastern Ghouta — a collection of suburbs just east of the Syrian capital, but this was later contradicted by a united Nations statement saying that fighting and shelling continued in eastern Ghouta on Tuesday, preventing any aid from reaching the besieged Syrian enclave during a five-hour pause “unilaterally” declared by Russia.

“It is a question of life and death – if ever there was a question of life and death – we need a 30-day cessation of hostilities in Syria as the Security Council demands,” Jens Laerke, spokesman of the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Assistance (OCHA), told a Geneva briefing.

“More than 1,000 sick and wounded are on a list of people needing medical evacuation by the Syrian Arab Red Crescent,” World Health Organization spokesman Tarik Jasarevic said. “But we don’t have any updates on something like that taking place or coming right now,” he added.

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