March 17, 2018

Syria regime ramps up brutal bombardment of Ghouta

08 March 2018, 01:33 | Rufus Hill

United States Blasts Russia Over Strikes On Syria Rebel

A boy watches as an aid convoy of Syrian Arab Red Crescent drives through the besieged town of Douma in eastern Ghouta on Monday

The Syrian regime sent reinforcements to eastern Ghouta on Wednesday, tightening the noose around the shrinking rebel enclave, hours before a top-level United Nations meeting on the escalating violence.

Wednesday's bombardment left at least 12 civilians dead including one child, the Observatory said, bringing the total toll in more than two weeks of bombing to more than 810 civilians, including 179 children.

The Syrian Foreign Ministry, consistent with its past positions, has denied the targeting of civilians, but Syria's official news agency, SANA, announced on Tuesday that soldiers loyal to the government had captured the town of Muhamadiya, just at the edge of Eastern Ghouta, and said that the military would continue its push to recapture the city.

Air strikes, and artillery and rocket fire on the last major rebel-held enclave near the capital Damascus have killed hundreds and devastated residential areas since they began on February 18.

Claims that Syrian troops and pro-government allies had taken control of more than one-third of the enclave has been described as "inaccurate" by activists on the ground.

According to the report, indicators of a severe shortage of food and scarcity of medical supplies in Eastern Ghouta pointing towards an imminent humanitarian catastrophe have surfaced after 17 days of the vicious offensive during which civilians had to live in shelters that lack the most basic of life needs, including 10 days after a Security Council Resolution that was supposedly should aid them was adopted.

Russian forces have called for a "humanitarian corridor", offering a brief cease-fire in the middle of each day to allow aid to enter eastern Ghouta and civilians to leave. Rebel shelling on Damascus has killed dozens of people during the last two weeks, state-run media has said.

Rebel spokesman Wael Olwan dismissed the offer on Tuesday, saying it was "psychological warfare".

Home to some 400,000 people, Eastern Ghouta has remained under a crippling regime siege for the last five years.

AFP correspondents in Eastern Ghouta heard warplanes overhead carrying all out strikes on the battleground towns.

A wounded Syrian kid receives medical treatment at the field hospital after Assad Regime's attacks over Zamalka suburb of the eastern Ghouta region of Damascus in Syria, on March 06, 2018.

At least 24 civilians were killed on Tuesday, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR).

"More than 700 fighters from the Syrian government's allied militias took new positions on the Eastern Ghouta fronts", the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

During that pause, Moscow said, it would guarantee safe passage to civilians and rebels wishing to flee the enclave.

The U.N.'s top human rights body has called for U.N. -mandated investigators for Syria to conduct an urgent and targeted probe of recent violence in the eastern Ghouta region outside of Damascus.

The strikes may not have specifically targeted civilians, the panel ruled, but the use of unguided blast bombs in a densely populated area could amount to a war crime on the part of Russian Federation, which has played a crucial role in backing the Syrian government.

Over the years, numerous rounds of UN-backed Syria peace talks have failed to stem the fighting.

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