The UN called for a month-long truce in Syria’s bloody conflict to allow aid workers to reach the sick and wounded, as surging violence and fresh reports of chemical warfare threaten to drag the U.S. deeper into the country’s civil war.
The seven-year-long conflict in Syria has entered an “extreme situation,” and civilians will face “dire consequences” if aid isn’t delivered soon, the UN said.
Syrian and Russian forces continued raining bombs and artillery shells on eastern Ghouta, a rebel-held area outside the capital that's home to some 400,000 people. This week's offensive is the latest chapter in a brutal battle that has steadily escalated over the last six weeks. More than 60 civilians were killed and 100 were wounded on Tuesday alone, according to the UK-based monitor, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
“The scale and ferocity of attacks has increased dramatically,” the UN Commission of Inquiry on Syria said in a statement, pointing to both eastern Ghouta and fighting in a town to the north called Idlib.
The commission also said it was investigating “multiple reports” that both areas had been hit with bombs containing “weaponized chlorine.”
On Monday the U.S. accused the Syrian government of deploying chemical weapons for the sixth time in 30 days, and threatened unspecified action to stop it from happening again.
Last spring, U.S. President Donald Trump launched dozens of Tomahawk cruise missiles at a military facility in Syria in response to the alleged use of chemical weapons by the government.
U.S. Ambassador the United Nations, Nikki Haley, denounced Russia, the Syrian government’s top foreign sponsor, for enabling Syria’s use of chemical weapons — and warned that “the United States will no give up on the responsibility” to “act.”
Cover image: Children are seen near rubble after an air raid in the besieged town of Douma in eastern Ghouta in Damascus, Syria, February 6, 2018. (REUTERS/ Bassam Khabieh)