Thousands of Eastern Ghouta residents flee as Syrian regime forces advance

Aaron Brown
March 5, 2018

Under growing worldwide pressure to end the bloodshed, regime backer Russian Federation last week announced daily five-hour "humanitarian pauses" in the enclave.

Assad's forces have seized over a quarter of the enclave on Damascus's eastern edges after two weeks of devastating bombardment, according to SOHR.

The military advances come amid reports of wide-scale internal displacement as civilians flee government forces. The YPG has been an important ally for the United States in the fight against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.

Turkish troops and allied Syrian fighters have been attacking Afrin from the north, west and east, and have formed a crescent around the district. The advance was backed by intense shelling and airstrikes.

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

The Observatory, which relies on a network of sources on the ground to monitor Syria's civil war, said rebels had retaken some parts of Shifoniya. "It is a scorched-earth policy", said Ghouta-based activist Nour Adam.

In a statement Sunday, the United Nations said it plans to deliver aid to Douma, the largest town in Eastern Ghouta, with its partners on the ground. But the United States directly accused Russian Federation of killing civilians.

The Americans went on to point out the amount of direct breaches of the material terms of any resolution not to attack the civilian population of the rebel-held territory.

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A spokesman for the Syrian Civil Defence volunteer rescuers, known as the "White Helmets", said access to the area had been very hard.

"The United States condemns the ongoing military offensive that the Assad regime, backed by Russian Federation and Iran, is perpetrating against the people of eastern Ghouta", the statement read.

The White House remarks on March 4 represented some of the harshest comments directed toward Moscow for its support of President Bashar al-Assad's government in Syria's almost seven-year civil war. US President Donald Trump and German Chancellor Angela Merkel called on Thursday for the ceasefire to be implemented immediately.

"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 number of casualties in Eastern Ghouta since February 19 has reached 718. He added there were initial agreements for further convoys to serve more of the enclave€™s 400,000 people, but no agreement has been reached on the evacuation of some 1,000 people in dire medical need.

The intense bombardment of Eastern Ghouta has caused thousands of residents to flee their homes and head westward where the fighting is less severe, civilians inside the suburb told CNN Sunday.

The United Nations later issued a statement saying it had received approval for a 46-truck convoy to the Ghouta town of Douma on Monday, carrying health and nutrition supplies, and food for 27,500 people.

Other reports by Free-Prsite

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