Published: Mon, March 05, 2018
Global | By Craig Ferguson

Syrians flee govt advances in eastern Ghouta

Syrians flee govt advances in eastern Ghouta

Meanwhile, Syria' Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad said the Syrian government is ready to send aid to Eastern Ghouta, noting that the rebels have targeted the crossing point into Eastern Ghouta.

In the area, which is locked from all sides by government forces, there are about 400 thousand people in need of urgent delivery of food and basic necessities.

Syria's state-run TV said on Saturday that government troops have seized wide areas of eastern Ghouta.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said government forces had seized around a quarter of eastern Ghouta in a ground assault that began on February 27, building on a ferocious air and artillery bombardment that has killed hundreds.

French President Emmanuel Macron asked his Iranian counterpart Hassan Rouhani to put pressure on the Syrian government to end attacks against the Ghouta region and to allow humanitarian aid to flow.

A local reporter told NHK that government forces began burning some areas a few days ago, and local residents are facing extreme conditions.

The Observatory said some 2,000 civilians had fled government shelling and clashes in eastern parts of the enclave.

A picture taken on February 25, 2018, shows a Syrian man walking next to damaged buildings following regime air strikes in the Syrian rebel-held town of Douma, in the besieged Eastern Ghouta region on the outskirts of the capital Damascus. The number of victims is expected to rise, if fighting escalates in densely populated areas.

Abu Mohammad Alaya stands on top of a pile of rubble, still searching for the body for his eldest son more than a week after an air strike destroyed their home in Syria's eastern Ghouta. "The progress achieved yesterday and the day before in Ghouta by the Syrian Arab Army was made during this truce", Mr Assad said in broadcast comments to journalists.

The Syrian government and Russian Federation said terrorists fired 65 mortar shells at the capital and its surroundings in the day.

White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders accused Russian Federation of ignoring the UNSC's resolution that demanded a 30-day ceasefire to continue the offensive "under the false auspices of counterterrorism operations".

A humanitarian convoy carrying life-saving supplies from United Nations and other aid agencies will not enter the besieged Syrian enclave of eastern Ghouta as planned on Sunday, a United Nations official in Syria told Reuters.

Mr Macron is expected to visit Iran this year. Rebel officials have consistently denied stopping civilians from leaving.

On Saturday, 18 civilians, including three children, were killed in bombardment of Eastern Ghouta, according to the Observatory.

"Instead of a much-needed reprieve, we continue to see more fighting, more death, and more disturbing reports of hunger and hospitals being bombed", he said in a statement.

The organisation said it had failed to obtain permission from Syrian officials to allow 40 trucks carrying humanitarian supplies to enter the key town of Douma.

Turkey has rejected Western calls for it to suspend the Afrin assault in line with the United Nations ceasefire, which does not apply to Islamic State, al-Qaida and groups associated with it, or other groups deemed terrorists by the Security Council.

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