Kremlin has expressed serious concerns over what is happening in the Syrian town of Eastern Ghouta despite the UN-approved ceasefire, which came into immediate effect from Saturday, 24 February.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has held a telephonic conversation with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron to discuss the tense situation prevailing in the Syrian town, where nearly 400,000 civilians are trapped.
"Terrorists who are in Eastern Ghouta do not lay down arms, they hold local citizens hostages and this causes a very tense situation," Russian presidential spokesman Dmitri Peskov said.
"The situation in Syria was discussed [on February 25] in a telephone conversation between Russian President Vladimir Putin, French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, it causes extreme concern."
When asked whether the three leaders discussed the alleged use of chemical weapons, he refused to answer. While there have been reports suggesting the Syrian regime led by President Bashar al-Assad could have used chemical compounds – a war crime by international regulations – there has been no independent confirmation on the matter.
After weeks of diplomatic wrangling, the UN, on Saturday, 24 February, unanimously passed a resolution agreeing to a 30-day-long ceasefire across war-torn Syria in order to allow humanitarian assistance and medical evacuation.
Following the resolution, the UN also renewed its appeal to all parties to stop the fighting especially in Eastern Ghouta, one of the last remaining rebel strongholds located near capital Damascus. The besieged town has been at the nucleus of a bitter conflict between forces loyal to Assad and rebels since 2013 with the Syrian military pounding the opposing ones with the backing of Iranian and Russian forces.
Meanwhile, the UN chief António Guterres has also called for the swift implementation of the truce throughout the country. "The secretary-general stresses his expectation that the resolution will be immediately implemented and sustained, particularly to ensure the immediate, safe, unimpeded and sustained delivery of humanitarian aid and services, the evacuation of the critically sick and wounded and the alleviation of the suffering of the Syrian people," said UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric.