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Baby girl found alive under rubble after Syrian bombing

In Douma, the main town in Eastern Ghouta, residents woke to the sounds of fresh air raids.

The infant was rescued from rubble in Douma city.
The infant was rescued from rubble in Douma city.
Image: Syrian Civil Defense

Updated 7.22pm

A BABY GIRL was pulled alive from the rubble of a building in Syria today as bombing continued despite a UN Security Council demand for a ceasefire.

After days of diplomatic wrangling, the Security Council on Saturday adopted a resolution calling for a 30-day ceasefire in Syria “without delay”, to allow for aid deliveries and medical evacuations.

The main rebel groups in Eastern Ghouta, where more than 500 people have died since the bombing campaign was launched a week ago, welcomed the UN vote and said they would abide by a ceasefire.

French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel were to speak by phone today with Russian President Vladimir Putin — a key ally of Syria’s regime — to press for the implementation of the ceasefire “in the coming days”.

The bombing campaign on Eastern Ghouta, a rebel bastion on the eastern outskirts of Damascus, has been one of the heaviest of the seven-year civil war that has pitted President Bashar al-Assad’s regime against a range of rebel groups.

In Douma, the main town in Eastern Ghouta, residents woke to the sounds of fresh air raids and artillery strikes this morning, an AFP correspondent in the town said.

A video from the Syrian Civil Defence, also known as The White Helmets, shows the devastation caused by the bombing. It also shows the rescue of a baby girl, who was found alive under the rubble of a building in Douma city.

Click here to view the video

Regime air strikes and artillery have been pounding the enclave since 18 February, with at least 520 dead, including more than 100 children, according to the Observatory.

Resolution watered down

Air strikes on rebel-held town in Syria Source: DPA/PA Images

A woman was killed in artillery fire on the town of Hammuriyeh, said Abdel Rahman, whose group uses a network of sources across Syria to monitor the country’s conflict.

Abdel Rahman said there were also clashes in the south of Eastern Ghouta between regime forces and fighters from the Jaish al-Islam rebel group. Fighting in the area is frequent so it was not immediately clear if the clashes represented a change on the ground.

Eastern Ghouta, home to some 400,000 people, is surrounded by government-controlled territory and its residents are unwilling or unable to flee.

The two main rebel groups controlling the enclave — Jaish al-Islam and Faylaq al-Rahman — welcomed the Security Council demand, but vowed to fight back in case of renewed attacks.

Jaish al-Islam said it was “committed to protecting humanitarian convoys” but warned it would “immediately respond to any violation”.

Faylaq al-Rahman said in a statement: “We confirm our full commitment to the (UN) resolution… Nevertheless, we reserve the right to defend the civilians of Eastern Ghouta in case of renewed attacks.”

UN diplomats say yesterday’s Security Council resolution was watered down to ensure it was not vetoed by Russia, which has provided diplomatic and military support to Assad’s regime.

Language specifying that the ceasefire would start 72 hours after adoption was scrapped, replaced by “without delay,” and the term “immediate” was dropped in reference to aid deliveries and evacuations.

In another concession, the ceasefire will not apply to operations against the Islamic State group or Al-Qaeda, along with “individuals, groups, undertakings and entities” associated with the terror groups.

Syria’s former Al-Qaeda affiliate is present in Eastern Ghouta and Assad’s regime routinely describes all of its opponents as “terrorists”.

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres, who has described Eastern Ghouta under the bombardment as “hell on Earth,” said the ceasefire must be “immediately” implemented.

© AFP 2018 with reporting by Michelle Hennessy.

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