Civilians of Ghouta trapped in regime's blistering assault
11 March, 2018, 01:37 | Author: Edward Snyder
Two Islamist groups are the most prominent rebel factions in Ghouta, but militants from Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) - once linked to Al-Qaeda's Syria branch - also have a presence.
At least 976 civilians, including 208 children, have been killed in Eastern Ghouta since February 18, when al-Assad's forces started a major offensive against rebel-held areas there, according to the Observatory.
In the town of Hammuriyeh, dozens of people took part in a protest calling for an end to the bloodshed, the Britain-based Observatory said.
Mohammad Alloush, one of Jaish al-Islam's leaders, told pan-Arab television channel al-Arabiya al-Hadath on Friday that there are no more than "a few hundred" Nusra fighters in Eastern Ghouta, Reutersreported.
A second convoy with desperately needed aid for the besieged rebel-held eastern suburbs of Damascus was postponed on Thursday because of the violence and a rapidly evolving situation on the ground, the International Committee of the Red Cross said.
The aid was delivered as helicopters hovered overhead and warplanes targeted areas outside Douma, according to an AFP correspondent.
Residents say they fear government retribution if they were to try and flee the area, or the possibility of being redrafted into the Syrian military and sent to fight on the frontline.
Doctors and nurses in the beleaguered enclave have run out of several life-saving items and a massive medical re-supply is critically urgent, Doctors Without Borders (MSF) said Friday.
The violence has continued despite a United Nations security council resolution demanding a 30-day ceasefire and the delivery of humanitarian aid "without delay". Hassan has sent us video footage of the beleagured town.
Some 400,000 people are still thought to live in the area, seven years into Syria's civil war.
UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi on Friday called the conflict a "colossal human tragedy".
Within the last eight months, the regime has stepped up the siege, preventing food and medicine from entering the district, leaving thousands of residents in need of medical treatment.
For President Bashar al-Assad, it would mark a significant victory as he builds on the military momentum created by Russia's entry into the war in 2015 that has restored his rule over large swathes of the country.
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