By Fatih Hafiz Mehmet
ANKARA (AA) - The UN said Tuesday it is deeply alarmed by conditions in Syria’s Eastern Ghouta following reports that a large number of civilians have been killed in airstrikes.
"The Secretary-General is deeply alarmed by the escalating situation in Eastern Ghouta and its devastating impact on civilians," Stephane Dujarric, spokesman for UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, said in a written statement.
The statement said there are reports that over 100 people have been killed in Eastern Ghouta since Monday, including at least 13 children, while five hospitals or medical clinics in the area were hit by airstrikes and over 700 people require immediate medical evacuation.
Nearly 400,000 people in Eastern Ghouta have been subjected to airstrikes, shelling and bombardment, the statement said.
As a result of the siege by Syrian regime forces, residents of the area are living under extreme conditions, including malnutrition, it added.
Meanwhile, there are reports of shelling from Eastern Ghouta on Damascus, the statement said.
The statement said Eastern Ghouta is part of a de-escalation agreement reached last May in Kazakhstan’s capital Astana and the secretary-general reminds all parties, particularly the guarantors of the Astana agreement, of their commitments in this regard.
The UN has repeatedly called for a cessation of hostilities to enable humanitarian aid deliveries and the evacuation of the sick and wounded, the statement said.
"The Secretary-General urges all stakeholders to ensure that basic principles of international humanitarian law are adhered to, including unhindered humanitarian access, unconditional medical evacuations, and the protection of civilians and civilian infrastructure," the statement stressed.
Eastern Ghouta falls within a network of de-escalation zones endorsed by Turkey, Russia and Iran in which acts of aggression are expressly prohibited.
But the Bashar al-Assad regime continues to target residential parts of the city, killing at least 539 people and injuring more than 2,000 others since Dec. 29 last year.
Home to some 400,000 civilian residents, Eastern Ghouta has remained under a crippling siege for the last five years.
Syria has been locked in a devastating civil war since March 2011 when the Assad regime cracked down on pro-democracy protests with unexpected ferocity.
While UN officials say hundreds of thousands of people have been killed in the conflict, Syrian regime officials say the death toll is closer to 10,000.