Hundreds of Syrian civilians died as a result of last week’s bombings caused by rising conflict between the Syrian government under Bashar al-Assad and opposition groups, according to The Guardian and The New York Times.
The escalation in violence comes after peace talks brokered by Russia failed to produce any results. As reported by the Guardian, these bombings effectively mark the end of a de-escalation agreement between Syria and opposing forces which was brokered by Moscow, Ankara and Tehran.
Paulo Pinheiro, head of the United Nations Commission of Inquiry on Syria, said these reports were “very troubling and make a mockery of so-called de-escalation zones intended to protect civilians from such bombardment,” according to ABC.
U.N. Regional Humanitarian Coordinator for the Syrian Crisis Panos Moumtzis has also cited “failure of countries who are of influence to Damascus and others to bring the influence needed to ensure respect for human beings” as being partly responsible for the ongoing and escalating violence in Syria, according to The Times.
Lynn Malouf, Director of Research for the Middle East at Amnesty International, said “Syria has shown utter contempt for international law by deploying chemical weapons.” ABC reported that the bombs used by the Syrian government contained weaponized chlorine and are being probed by U.N. war-crime investigators.
The Times reported that the U.N. has called for an immediate ceasefire to put an end to the extreme situation. This call is not expected to be effective. Russia is supposed to be monitoring a reduction of violence but they do not seem to be having any success in pushing Bashar al-Assad to negotiate.
Russia has dismissed the U.N.’s call for a ceasefire with Russian U.N. envoy Vassily Nebenzya saying, “That’s not realistic. We would love to see a ceasefire, the end of the war, but the terrorists, I am not sure, are in agreement,” according to The Guardian.
The Times reported that Syria has not allowed any aid packages or evacuations of citizens. As a result, Panos Moumtzis made an unusually emotional statement declaring that “It’s our moral duty to speak up” against what the Syrian government is doing to its citizens.
There have been 400,000 casualties of the war so far and the other half of the country has been displaced, but violence has been escalating over the past few days according to The Times.
The bombings have been particularly violent, and have directly affected hospitals and other health care facilities. The Times reported that premature babies were being carried from hospitals and families were being pulled from rubble despite the fact that al-Assad says the government is only targeting rebels.
The Guardian reported that a doctor in Ghouta, a Syrian town in which at least 100 were wounded and at least 14 were killed, described the city as being “drowning in blood.” Additionally, journalist Raed Srewel, based in Douma, told the Guardian that “there is not safe place in Ghouta.”
The Times reported that Panos Moumtzis expressed concern about the violence that was occurring and the lack of attention that it has garnered. He was not sure what kind of violence might be necessary in order to capture substantial international attention.