Qatar’s Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, has characterised the latest intensive bombardment of Syria’s Eastern Ghouta as a “crime against humanity”.

In a comment posted on his official Twitter page on Saturday, Sheikh Tamim said protecting civilian lives in the opposition-held enclave “remains the responsibility of the international community”.

Eastern Ghouta is a suburb of the Syrian capital of Damascus, where the government of President Bashar al-Assad resides.

The area, home to about 400,000 people, has been under a crippling siege by Assad’s forces since 2013 as they attempt to wrest control from the armed opposition operating there.

As one of the last remaining rebel strongholds, Syrian government and allied Russian forces have stepped up their bombardment of the territory in recent weeks, but the majority of losses has been civilian lives.

More than 500 people, including 123 children, were killed last week while 2,400 others were wounded in the shelling.

The United Nations Security Council (UNSC) passed a resolution on Saturday night calling for an immediate 30-day ceasefire in Syria to evacuate civilians and allow for food and medicine in to the enclave.

But activists and witnesses on the ground reported violations of the ceasefire soon after.

Last week, Qatar’s foreign ministry also called on the international community to “take the necessary measures to stop these crimes and protect the Syrian people and their future generations through transitional justice, and bringing war criminals to international justice.”

The attacks on Eastern Ghouta are the latest in a seven-year long war that unfolded when peaceful protests broke out against President Assad’s rule.

At least 470,000 people have been killed, and over 12 million Syrians – half the country’s prewar population – have been driven from their homes since then.

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