Almost 400 people have been killed in the past few days as bombs rained down on the besieged Syrian enclave of eastern Ghouta. Some 390,000 civilians are trapped in their houses, and water, food and electricity supplies have run out.

Almost 400 people have been killed in the five-day assault by the Syrian government on Eastern Ghouta, which UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has described as
Almost 400 people have been killed in the five-day assault by the Syrian government on Eastern Ghouta, which UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has described as "hell on earth" for civilians. February 22, 2018 (AFP)

The United Nations Security Council (UNSC) on Thursday ended its meeting on eastern Ghouta in Syria without voting on a draft resolution for a 30-day ceasefire.

During the meeeting, Russia disagreed to the 30-day ceasefire proposal and presented amendments to a draft resolution that would allow aid deliveries and the evacuation of civilians from besieged eastern Ghouta.

UNSC had been negotiating the draft resolution on the ceasefire for nearly two weeks as the Syrian regime has pressed on with a fierce offensive in the rebel-held enclave.

Russian Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia said Sweden and Kuwait, which drafted the measure, had requested a vote on the draft resolution even though they were "fully aware there is no agreement on it."

The Security Council needs to reach a "feasible" agreement on a ceasefire and not take a decision that would be "populistic" and "severed from reality," said Nebenzia.

Almost 400 people have been killed in the five-day assault by the Syrian government on eastern Ghouta, which UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has described as "hell on earth" for civilians.

The ambassador cited concerns over measures to enforce the ceasefire and the safe delivery of aid before announcing that he would circulate proposals to amend the draft resolution.

Sweden and Kuwait presented the measure to the council on February 9, but negotiations have dragged on as Syrian regime forces backed by Russia escalated their fierce offensive.

The United States, France, Britain have called on the council to move to a vote as quickly as possible.

Swedish Ambassador Olof Skoog urged the council to back the ceasefire to "avert a situation that is beyond words in its desperation."

The draft resolution would have paved the way for a truce to come into effect 72 hours after the adoption of the measure and for aid deliveries and medical evacuations to begin 48 hours after that.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov was quoted by Russian news agencies earlier as saying that Moscow could back the measure if it did not apply to rebel groups who are shelling Damascus.

In a concession to Russia, the draft was amended last week to specify that the ceasefire does not apply to Daesh or Al Qaeda, but Lavrov appeared to put forward new demands.

"The resolution that is on the table, we are ready to look at it, but we have offered very precise phrasing that would say that the ceasefire would under no circumstances extend to ISIL [Daesh], Jabhat al Nusra and those groups cooperating with them and systemically attacking the residential neighbourhoods of Damascus," Lavrov said.

Source: Reuters