Hundreds killed in Syria’s eastern Ghouta since February, UN says

March 4, 2018 | By | Reply More

Thousands of civilians have fled advances by Syrian government forces in eastern Ghouta over the last two days, a war monitor and a resident said, as Damascus makes rapid gains in a fierce assault against the last major rebel enclave near the capital.

syria newsGovernment forces need to advance just a few more kilometres further to split the enclave in two, said a commander in the military alliance that backs President Bashar al-Assad.

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

One of the main insurgent groups in eastern Ghouta, Jaish al-Islam, said the government’s “scorched earth policy” had forced rebels to retreat and regroup, but vowed to recover lost territory.

A UN humanitarian official said 400,000 people in eastern Ghouta were being subjected to unacceptable “collective punishment”, and called for the implementation of a 30-day ceasefire demanded by the UN Security Council. U.S. President Donald Trump and German Chancellor Angela Merkel called on Thursday for the ceasefire to be implemented immediately.

U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May spoke with Trump about Syria on Sunday. They agreed it was a humanitarian catastrophe, according to a Downing Street spokesperson, and that the overwhelming responsibility for the heart-breaking human suffering lay with the Syrian regime and Russia, as the regime’s main backer.

They agreed that Russia and others with influence over the Syrian regime must act now to cease their campaign of violence and to protect civilians.

With the war entering its eighth year, capturing the eastern Ghouta area would be a major victory for Assad, who has steadily recovered control of rebellious areas with military support from Russia and Iran.

The multi-sided Syrian war, which has killed hundreds of thousands of people since 2011, has escalated on several fronts this year, as the collapse of Islamic State has given way to other conflicts between Syrian and international parties.

Turkey, backed by allied Syrian militias, has gained ground in recent days against the Kurdish YPG militia in an offensive it is waging in northwestern Syria.

Shelling and airstrikes have killed 659 people in eastern Ghouta since Feb. 18, making the offensive one of the deadliest of the war, while rebel shelling of Damascus has killed 27.

Orient TV, which supports the opposition, said advances by pro-Assad forces had triggered large-scale displacement.

One resident estimated that thousands of people were on the move and seeking shelter in areas further from the frontlines.

The Observatory estimated that between 300 to 400 families — roughly several thousand people — had fled areas seized by government forces since Saturday.

Press journalist for HRO media – Khizer Hayat reports.

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Category: Arab uprising

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