This photo provided by the Syrian Civil Defense White Helmets, which has been authenticated based on its contents and other AP reporting, shows a member of the Syrian Civil Defense group carrying a boy who was wounded during airstrikes and shelling by Syrian government forces in Ghouta, a suburb of Damascus, Syria, Friday, March. 2, 2018. The Russia-ordered pause came after a U.N. Security Council resolution calling for a nationwide 30-day cease-fire failed to take hold. While the relentless bombing has somewhat subsided in eastern Ghouta, home to around 400,000 civilians, the Syrian government's push to squeeze the insurgents out of the region continued. (Syrian Civil Defense White Helmets via AP)

The Latest: UN rights chief decries crimes in eastern Ghouta

March 02, 2018 - 9:43 am

BEIRUT (AP) — The Latest on developments related to Syria (all times local):

4:45 p.m.

The U.N. human rights chief says violence and killings in the embattled eastern Ghouta region and across Syria likely amount to war crimes and are potentially crimes against humanity.

Zeid Ra'ad al-Hussein says: "Civilians are being pounded into submission or death." He appealed to the Human Rights Council to help hold perpetrators of such crimes to account, insisting that they must know that case files are being built against them.

Zeid's speech kicked off an "urgent debate" at the 47-nation body that was sought by Britain to highlight and discuss crimes faced by an estimated 400,000 people inside the rebel-held enclave east of the capital, Damascus.

U.N. and other human rights monitors estimate that hundreds of people have been killed since a government-led assault began on eastern Ghouta on Feb. 18.


12:15 p.m.

French President Emmanuel Macron and U.S. President Donald Trump are calling for the immediate implementation of a 30-day cease-fire in Syria.

The French presidency's office said in a written statement the heads of state discussed the situation in a phone call Friday.

Macron and Trump agreed to "work together" for the implementation of the U.N. Security Council resolution passed last weekend to allow a cease-fire, the transport of humanitarian aid and the evacuation of the injured and sick.

They call on Russia to "put maximal pressure on Damascus' without ambiguity" so that the government commits to respecting the U.N. resolution.

Macron said the use of lethal chemical weapons, if proven, would lead to a strong response. He said he's extremely vigilant on the issue, the statement said.


10:30 a.m.

Syrian activists say the Turkish air force has hit two positions of pro-government Syrian fighters deployed last week in the Kurdish enclave of Afrin, killing and wounding a number of fighters.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says the airstrikes took place late on Thursday in the village of Jamaa and killed 17 fighters of the force known as the Popular Forces.

The main Kurdish militia in Syria, known as YPG, confirmed the attack in a statement, saying the airstrikes killed and wounded several fighters

Turkey's military said Turkish-made ATAK helicopters struck a region in western Afrin, killing nine "terrorists." It did not provide further details and it was not clear if the airstrikes were in retaliation for the deaths of eight Turkish soldiers killed there on Thursday.

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