February 21, 2018 / 8:38 PM / 25 days ago

Talks to end conflict in Syria's Eastern Ghouta break down: Russia

MOSCOW (Reuters) - The Russian military said on Wednesday that talks to try to peacefully resolve the situation in Syria’s Eastern Ghouta had broken down and that rebels there had ignored calls to cease resistance and lay down their arms.

A child walks near damaged buildings in the besieged town of Douma, Eastern Ghouta, Damascus, Syria February 20, 2018. REUTERS/Bassam Khabieh

Russia spelled out its view of the situation after residents in eastern Ghouta said they were waiting their “turn to die”, amid one of the most intense bombardments of the war by pro-government forces on the besieged, rebel-held enclave near Damascus.

Moscow, which has rejected suggestions its air force bears responsibility for civilian deaths in the district, earlier on Wednesday called for the U.N. Security Council to meet publicly on Thursday to discuss the situation in Ghouta.

Russia’s ceasefire monitoring center in Syria, which is run by the Russian military, said in a statement later on Wednesday that talks with the rebels aimed at ending the violence in the area had broken down.

In a statement, it also accused the rebels of preventing civilians from leaving the conflict zone.

“A critical humanitarian and socio-economic situation is developing in eastern Ghouta,” the statement said.

“Calls by the Russian ceasefire monitoring centre for illegal armed rebel groups in eastern Ghouta to cease resistance, lay down their weapons, and regularise their status have produced no result.”

Reporting by Maxim Rodionov and Andrew Osborn; Editing by William Maclean

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