Syrians flee ahead of government advances in eastern Ghouta

Syrians flee ahead of government advances in eastern Ghouta

Syrians flee ahead of government advances in eastern Ghouta

"There is massive internal displacement of 30,000 people from (the areas of) Beit Sawa, Otaya, the Douma villages", Hassan said.

Rami Abdel Rahman, the head of the Britain-based group, said at least 12 government fighters had been killed in two areas, Al-Rihan and Shifoniya, in overnight clashes with the Jaish al-Islam rebel group.

More than 600 people have been killed and 2,000 injured since the Syrian regime launched an air and artillery bombardment of Eastern Ghouta, a suburb of Damascus, on February 18.

A sixth day of a Russian-led five-hour "humanitarian pause" has gotten under way in the besieged area, but residents in the past have mocked the "ceasefire", saying the bombing has never ceased.

Meanwhile, violence in the enclave rumbled on, including reports of chlorine gas attacks last week that were condemned by the White House.

Gunfire was audible during a broadcast by a Syrian state television journalist from a position he said had been captured by the advancing forces.

"There is no contradiction between a truce and combat operations", he said.

Ali al-Zaatari, the UN's humanitarian coordinator in Syria who will be leading Monday's operation, said: "We hope that the convoy may proceed as planned and will be followed by other convoys".

The White Helmets, a Syrian volunteer rescue group, reported on Friday that 674 civilians had died since the beginning of air attacks on February 18, which have persisted despite the United Nations Security Council unanimously approving a 30-day cease-fire last week.

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Syrian President Bashar al-Assad said on Sunday that the chemical attacks allegations against the Syrian government are part of the Western "dictionary of lies", state news agency SANA reported.

As many as 46 trucks with relief aid will reach Eastern Ghouta on March 5, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said on Sunday.

The UN said it had received approval to deliver assistance for 70,000 people in need in Douma, adding that assurances were made that the remaining supplies for all approved people in need will be delivered on March 8.

"This is the same combination of lies and indiscriminate force that Russian Federation and the Syrian regime used to isolate and destroy Aleppo in 2016, where thousands of civilians were killed", the US statement said.

"President Trump and President al-Sisi agreed to work together on ending the humanitarian crisis in Syria and achieving Arab unity and security in the region", the White House statement said.

During a telephone call between the two leaders, Mr Macron underscored the "particular responsibility for Iran, because of its ties to the regime, regarding the implementation of the humanitarian truce" sought by the United Nations, his office said.

"This collective punishment of civilians is simply unacceptable", Moumtzis said in a statement.

Three people were also killed when Assad regime forces attack a residential area between Misraba and Duma districts with rocket and mortar shells.

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