February 24, 2018 / 2:39 PM / 10 months ago

Turkey says U.N. Security Council should end 'massacre' in Syria's Ghouta

Syria Civil Defence members help an unconscious woman from a shelter in the besieged town of Douma, Eastern Ghouta, Damascus, Syria February 22, 2018. REUTERS/Bassam Khabieh

ANKARA (Reuters) - The United Nations should end a “massacre” by Syria’s government in eastern Ghouta, the spokesman for Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said ahead of a U.N. Security Council vote on Saturday on a demand for a 30-day ceasefire in Syria.

A draft resolution aimed at ending a deadly pro-government bombing campaign in the eastern Ghouta district and elsewhere in Syria was delayed by the U.N. Security Council on Friday after a flurry of last-minute negotiations caused a 24-hour delay.

The ceasefire will be put to the vote in the 15-member council at noon (1700 GMT) on Saturday.

Turkey, one of the main backers of rebels fighting to overthrow President Bashar al-Assad, on Saturday called for the world to jointly put an end to one of the deadliest pro-government bombing campaigns targeting rebels in the seven-year Syrian civil war.

“The Assad regime is carrying out a massacre in eastern Ghouta... A vote will be held in the UNSC for the attacks to end and aid to be delivered. The whole world should jointly say ‘stop’ to this massacre,” Erdogan’s spokesman, Ibrahim Kalin, wrote on Twitter.

Warplanes pounded the eastern Ghouta rebel enclave again on Saturday, the seventh day in a row of a fierce escalation by Damascus and its allies, an emergency service, a witness and a monitoring group said.

A surge of rocket fire, shelling and air strikes has killed nearly 500 people since Sunday night, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said. The dead included more than 120 children.

Previous ceasefires have had a poor record of ending fighting in Syria, where Assad’s forces have gained the upper hand with support from Russia, which has a history of standing in the way of Security Council measures that would harm Assad’s interests.

Reporting by Tuvan Gumrukcu, Editing by William Maclean

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