European Parliament calls for East Ghouta ceasefire
The president of the European Parliament on Monday called for the immediate implementation of a UN Security Council resolution on a ceasefire in the besieged Syrian enclave of Eastern Ghouta.
"No interest, no cause can justify the ethnic cleansing, the barbarism, the massacre of innocence," Antonio Tajani said during the opening speech of the European Parliament's General Assembly in Strasbourg, northeastern France.
Tajani appealed in the name of the European Parliament for the resolution's implementation to end the 'tragedy' in the opposition-held suburb of Damascus.
On Feb. 24, the UN Security Council unanimously adopted Resolution 2401, which calls for a month-long ceasefire in Syria -- especially Eastern Ghouta -- to allow the delivery of humanitarian aid.
Despite the resolution, the regime and its allies began a major ground operation on March 3 backed by Russian air power aimed at decisively capturing the enclave.
"There is an absolute urgency for a sustainable ceasefire. Civilians have to be protected. The injured and the sick have to be evacuated and security has to be the goal. All of this must be done under the Geneva process," Tajani said.
"Humanity is in ruins in Syria; let us not lose ours," he added.
Home to some 400,000 people, Eastern Ghouta has remained the target of a crippling siege by the Bashar al-Assad regime for the last five years.
The regime has stepped up its siege in recent months, preventing the delivery of badly needed humanitarian aid and leaving thousands of residents in need of medical treatment.
Last week, a UN commission of inquiry released a report accusing the Assad regime of committing war crimes in Eastern Ghouta, including the use of chemical weapons against civilians, causing mass starvation and forcibly preventing medical evacuations.
Syria has only just begun to emerge from a devastating conflict that began in early 2011 when the Assad regime cracked down on demonstrators with unexpected ferocity.