Syrian army intensifies Ghouta assault

Syrian army intensifies Ghouta assault

Syrian army intensifies Ghouta assault

Syrian troops have effectively split eastern Ghouta into three parts by sealing off two large towns, Douma and Harasta. Observers say despite the continuing increase in civilian fatalities, there is little prospect that fighting in eastern Ghouta will ease. "But then air strikes began again, and there are still people under the rubble that we couldn't get out".

More than 900 civilians have been killed in the Eastern Ghouta region since the Russian-backed government assault was launched on 18 February, according to the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) monitoring group, which has a network of sources on the ground.

The military has been accused of targeting civilians, but it says it is trying to liberate the region - one of the last rebel strongholds - from those it terms terrorists.

He said the fighting had resumed "despite assurances of safety from parties including the Russian Federation". "The security of humanitarian workers, as well as that of civilians, must be guaranteed at all times", Mardini said.

The trucks had been stuck at the Wafideen crossing the entire week, waiting to enter to deliver the remaining food parcels and flour bags.

Rebels have tried to slow the advance with an attempted counter-offensive, but President Bashar al-Assad's forces steamrolled their efforts.

The Syrian government forces on Saturday captured the strategic town of Mesraba and encircled the city of Harasta in Damascus' Eastern Ghouta countryside, according to War Media, the media wing of the Syrian army.

The evacuation deal came after Jaish al-Islam sent a letter last month to the United Nations vowing to facilitate the evacuation of the former al-Qaeda members.

Mekdad added that insurgents groups in the eastern Ghouta are preparing "to fabricate" more such attacks to blame the Syrian army.

The two largest rebel groups in the area, Jaish al-Islam and Failaq al-Rahman, have yet to comment on the report, Reuters stated today.

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Mekdad also pointed out that the Syrian government had asked worldwide investigators to investigate reports about a chemical incident in Khan Sheikhoun but the request was declined over alleged poor security conditions.

The fighters from Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), a group made up mostly of Al-Qaeda's ex-affiliate Al-Nusra Front, is to be evacuated to the northern province of Idlib, Jaish al-Islam said in a statement.

"The Syrian Arab Army soldiers marching from three sides could meet soon", said Rabih Dibi, a reporter with state-run Ikhbariyah TV in his report from Misraba.

Air strikes started up again after the evacuation, killing nine people and injuring around 28, the Observatory said.

An aid convoy managed to deliver food to hunger-stricken Eastern Ghouta on Friday despite renewed bombardment by Syrian regime forces who have seized more than half of the besieged rebel enclave.

Bilal Abu Salah, a resident of Douma, said shortages were causing great hardship. Another man said there were 15 families in the basement who have been hiding for days.

Within the last eight months, the regime has stepped up the siege, preventing food and medicine from entering the district, leaving thousands of residents in need of medical treatment.

"Living conditions are harsh".

Syrian state television showed a massive plume of dark smoke rising behind houses and trees in Eastern Ghouta, with the sound of blasts in the background. The Observatory has reported protests in one village to demand an end to the bombardment and the departure of rebels.

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