Over the weekend, the United Nations Security Council adopted a resolution demanding an immediate ceasefire in war-torn Syria.
The Council convened to arrive at some solution for the battered country after reports began to arrive from rescue workers about the dire straits civilians were experiencing in the country’s eastern Ghouta region. According to reports, bombing raids by Russian warplanes have become so persistent that personnel no longer even have windows of time long enough to count bodies. The recent period has truly become one of the bloodiest in the seven-year-long civil war.
According to the international humanitarian medical group Doctors Without Borders, at least 520 people have died, and 2,500 have been wounded in the shelling of eastern Ghouta over the past week. At least 13 hospitals and clinics in the area affiliated with the group have also been compromised or destroyed by the bombing. UN Secretary-General António Guterres stated in an address from UN headquarters that “400,000 people” have been under non-stop siege since 2013, with only sparse access to food and medicine.
Despite the desperate situation the resolution sought to address, it took quite a bit of time for the Security Council to come up with a text all members were willing to sign off on. The Council deliberated for three days, arguing over relatively minor details before reaching a consensus.
America’s UN ambassador Nikki Haley lambasted her colleagues after the 72-hour long deliberations saying:
"In the three days it took us to adopt this resolution, how many mothers lost their kids to the bombing...here we are voting for a ceasefire that could have saved lives days ago, and after all of this time, hardly anything has changed in the resolution except a few words and some commas."
With a truce now in effect, rescue and aid organizations hope to deliver emergency aid to eastern Ghouta and other hard-hit areas. Those wounded will finally be able to be evacuated to hospitals and other medical facilities, in safer areas of the country.
Unfortunately, the unanimous vote by the 15-member Security Council has not brought an end to the violence. Shortly after the Council’s demand for a ceasefire was finalized, Russia struck a town in eastern Ghouta, the last rebel enclave near Damascus. Residents in the area have reportedly been held up in basements for the past several days. Syria for its part has blatantly declared its intent to continue military operations during the truce. “We’re combating terrorism on our territories,” Syria’s UN Ambassador Bashar Ja‘afari told the Security Council. Ja‘afari added that the Syrian government “will reserve the right to respond as it deems appropriate” to target “terrorist armed groups.” According to reports, Iranian forces assisting Assad also plan to participate in “clean-up” operations in Damascus and other areas during the 30-day ceasefire.
As of now, bombings in Syria continue as normal. 24 hours after the Security Council vote, international media have reported that it is as if the resolution was never passed.
As of now, it remains unclear how the ceasefire resolution will affect the Syrian conflict, if at all.