'Russia not living up to ceasefire agreement'

US Ambassador to the UN accuses Russia of failing to abide by humanitarian ceasefire in Syria, resulting in civilian deaths in Ghouta.

Gary Willig ,

Nikki Haley
Nikki Haley

US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley criticized Russia for failing to abide by a UN ceasefire in Syria Monday.

“Sixteen days ago, we came to an agreement. Russia cast its vote in favor of the agreement. And with that vote, Russia promised its support for a 30-day ceasefire, as did the rest of the members of the Security Council," Ambassador Haley said at a UN Security Council briefing Monday.

"Today, we know that the Russians did not keep their commitment. Today, we see their actions don’t match those commitments, as bombs continue dropping on the children of eastern Ghouta. Today, we must ask whether Russia can no longer influence the Assad regime to stop the horrific destruction of hospitals, medical clinics, and ambulances. To stop dropping chemical weapons on villages.”

“During the negotiations, the United States put all parties on notice that we needed to act if the ceasefire was not honored, and members of the Security Council agreed. And now that day has come. The ceasefire has failed. The situation of the civilians in eastern Ghouta is dire. And the United States is acting. We have drafted a new ceasefire resolution that provides no room for evasion. It is simple, straightforward, and binding. It will take effect immediately upon adoption by this Council," she added.

The ambassador warned that the UN was failing in its mission to protect civilians in Syria. “If we can’t act when children are dying, we have no business being here. If we can’t save families that haven’t seen the sun for weeks because they have been hiding underground to escape barrel bombs, then the Security Council is as impotent as its worst critics say it is.”

Earlier, the White House accused Russia of complicity in human rights violations by the Assad regime in eastern Ghouta.

The White House said Russian military aircraft took off from Humaymim Airfield in Syria and carried out at least 20 daily bombing missions in Damascus and eastern Ghouta between February 24 and February 28.

Government shelling and air strikes have killed 659 people in Eastern Ghouta since February 18, while rebel shelling of Damascus has killed 27, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

Russia began military operations in Syria in 2015 to bolster the Assad regime and has ruled out the possibility that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad would step down as part of a solution to the country's civil war, which has claimed over half a million lives, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported Monday.