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Mincing no words, Syria's opposition calls Ghouta carnage genocide Open in fullscreen

Charlie Faulkner

Mincing no words, Syria's opposition calls Ghouta carnage genocide

[AFP]

Date of publication: 24 February, 2018

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Russia’s involvement in Syria has been condemned as a “genocide” and “crimes against humanity” by the National Coalition of Syria Revolution and Opposition Forces (SNC).

Russia’s involvement in Syria has been condemned as a “genocide” and “crimes against humanity” by the National Coalition of Syria Revolution and Opposition Forces (SNC).

Salwa Aksoy, vice president of SNC, urged the UN Security Council to take action against Russia’s vetoing of a ceasefire in Syria and prevent it from voting on further resolutions.

“What is happening is eastern Ghouta is systematic genocide,” said Ms Aksoy, as she addressed reporters in Istanbul on Friday.

“At least 1.7 million of its inhabitants have been displaced as a result of a ferocious onslaught targeting populated areas, infrastructure, hospitals, schools, and public markets.

“Russia is leading the bombing campaign, using the Hmemim airbase as a centre for the management of its military aggression. The barbaric bombing campaign has resulted in total destruction of human life in eastern Ghouta.

“The international community is not doing its job which is to punish these crimes against humanity.”

Ms Aksoy told reporters the UN Security Council’s charter states countries involved in the conflict are unable to vote on draft resolutions, calling for an end to the siege in eastern Ghouta.

“We want the world to start dealing differently with Russia and we want to start putting pressure on the international community to stop Russia from using a veto anymore.”

Despite two weeks of negotiations, Russia blocked the UN Security Council’s attempt to approve a 30-day nationwide ceasefire, during an emergency council meeting on Thursday.

The resolution, which was drafted by Sweden and Kuwait, would have allowed much needed humanitarian aid to enter the besieged suburb in Damascus.

However, Russian ambassador Vasily Nebenzya rejected reports of heavy civilian casualties in the region, accusing UN members of yielding to “mass psychosis” as a result of “coordinated and repeated spread of the same rumours in recent days” propagated by the media.

This is not the first time Russia has blocked a resolution – since 2011 it has vetoed resolutions on a number of motions, including on the use of chemical weapons.

Now in its seventh day of continued bombardment, the death toll has risen beyond 500 in eastern Ghouta. On Friday, two children were among nine civilians killed in fresh strikes, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

“The Syrian interim government and local councils have announced the emergency response rate has reached less than 30%,” said Ms Aksoy.

She called for the enforcement of Article 21 of UN Security Council resolution 2118 to punish those responsible for the use of chemical weapons in Syria.

The UN Security Council is expected to make another attempt to pass the draft resolution on Saturday.

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