The UN secretary-general urged Security Council members to “end the suffering” of residents in besieged Eastern Ghouta, as the US threatened to “act if we must” as a ceasefire continues to be ignored by Syrian and Russian forces.
Antonio Guterres’ remarks on Monday came as government forces continued for a third week to launch air strikes and advance a ground offensive into the Damascus suburb that has been under rebel control since mid-2013.
Several attempts to halt the deadly operation have proved futile, with a war monitor reporting more than 1,022 civilians have been killed in Russian-backed Syrian government attacks over the last three weeks.
“I am deeply disappointed by all those … who allowed this to happen,” Guterres said in his address at the UN headquarters in New York.
“There should be only one agenda for all of us: to end the suffering of the Syrian people and find a political solution to the conflict.
“Particularly in Eastern Ghouta, the air strikes, shelling, ground offensive intensified after the adoption of the resolution,” he said, referencing UNSC resolution 2401, which passed on February 24.
Resolution 2401 called for an immediate ceasefire, the evacuation of civilians, and the delivery of aid supplies.
Guterres also expressed his disappointment at the prevention of desperately needed food and medical assistance from being delivered to some of the 400,000 residents trapped inside the enclave.