More Civilians Killed in Eastern Ghouta

  • More Civilians Killed in Eastern Ghouta

More Civilians Killed in Eastern Ghouta

Government forces need to advance just a few more kilometres further to split the enclave in two, said a commander in the alliance that backs Assad.

An AFP news agency correspondent inside Eastern Ghouta saw hundreds of civilians on Sunday fleeing from the town of Beit Sawa in the southeast of the enclave.

"The regime has been hysterically bombing these areas and completely destroying towns and villages", he added.

At least 76 pro-regime fighters and 43 rebels from Jaish al-Islam have also been killed in clashes since February 25, it says.

Eastern Ghouta, a Damascus suburb with a population of about 400,000 has been under siege for the last five years, the longest-lasting siege in modern history.

The UN resolution provided little detail on when the ceasefire was meant to begin, how it would be enforced or even whether all the parties concerned were aware of it.

As part of diplomatic efforts to end the Syria crisis, the Iranian diplomat regularly meets with Syrian officials, UN Special Envoy on Syria Staffan de Mistura, and Alexander Lavrentiev, the Russian President Vladimir Putin's Special Representative for Syria. The SOHR said government forces had seized a quarter of the territory.

The United States on Sunday made its strongest accusation to date of Moscow's complicity in civilian deaths in Syria's besieged eastern Ghouta region, saying Russian military aircraft conducted at least 20 daily bombing missions in Damascus and eastern Ghouta between Feb 24 and Feb 28.

The United Nations has called for a 30-day ceasefire in Eastern Ghouta, but so far regime-backer Russian Federation has declared only a five-hour daily "humanitarian pause".

Assad also denied that his forces have used chemical weapons, calling such reports "a dictionary of lies" by western countries.

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's regional humanitarian coordinator for Syria, Panos Moumtzis, sounded the alarm on Sunday over the increase in violence. "Our teams on the ground are ready to do all that is needed to make this happen", stated al-Za'tari, according to the statement.

On Saturday, the United Nations passed a Syria-wide 30-day ceasefire, but violence has continued.

"The operation against terrorism must continue, while at the same time civilians will continue to have the possibility to evacuate from the war zone", he said.

"This collective punishment of civilians is simply unacceptable".

More than 600 people have died since mid-Febrauary after heavy fire and airstrikes, making it one of the most deadly offensives of the conflict.

Encircled by regime-controlled territory and unable or unwilling to flee, residents have been subjected to one of the most ferocious assaults of Syria's civil war in recent weeks, including airstrikes and rocket and artillery bombardment.