Breaking News Emails
The U.N. Security Council unanimously approved a resolution on Saturday that called for a 30-day ceasefire “without delay” across Syria after bombings in the nation’s eastern Ghouta region caused thousands of casualties.
Though Secretary General António Guterres demanded for an immediate ceasefire in Syria on Wednesday, the U.N. Security Council vote was delayed three times by Russia. The final vote was ultimately pushed back from Wednesday to Saturday, and critics claimed that this allowed Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad to continue a days-long bombing campaign that killed hundreds.
Nikki Haley, the U.S. ambassador to the U.N., did not mince words in blaming Russia, Syria and Iran for the delay, claiming the negotiations changed nothing “except a few words and some commas.”
“As they dragged out the negotiation, the bombs from Assads fighter jets continued to fall,” Haley said after the vote. “In the three days it took us to adopt this resolution, how many mothers lost their kids to the bombing and shelling? How many more images did we need to see of fathers holding their dead children?”
Haley claimed that the Assad regime had struck 19 health facilities since they began the bombing in eastern Ghouta on Sunday, a region that includes the historic city of Damascus.
Doctors Without Borders reported that it had seen more than 2,500 wounded and 520 dead after five days of bombing that started Sunday. The number, however, is expected to be much higher.
The resolution calls for the ceasefire “to enable the safe, unimpeded and sustained delivery of humanitarian aid and services and medical evacuations of the critically sick and wounded.” The U.N. estimated that 5.6 million people are in need of help, particularly the 2.9 million Syrians believed to be in “hard-to-reach and besieged locations.”
Sweden and Kuwait sponsored the resolution and led much of the negotiation. To gain support from Russia, they ultimately dropped a demand that the case-fire begin within 72 hours, according to the Associated Press.
Vassily Nebenzia, Russia’s U.N. ambassador, maintained throughout the negotiations that such an immediate cease-fire would be unrealistic, the AP reported.
Meanwhile, the U.K.-based war monitor Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said that this past week’s bombings had been some of the deadliest days since 2015. NBC News could not independently verify the claim.
“The Syrian people should not have to die waiting for Russia to organize their instructions from Moscow. Or to discuss it with the Syrians,” Haley said.
According to the Associated Press, bombings were so intense in Eastern Ghouta at times that airstrikes were coming in at a rate of one per minute. Approximately 400,000 men, women and children are believed to remain in the region.
Thousands of people are believed to have been driven underground.
“Today we are going to see if Russia has a conscience,” Haley told a group of reporters prior to the vote.