Syrian forces cut off key towns in Eastern Ghouta enclave

Syria army bombs splintered Ghouta enclave as bodies pile

Syria army bombs splintered Ghouta enclave as bodies pile up  11 Mar 2018- 17:42

Government troops and allied militia launched their military campaign for Eastern Ghouta on February 18 and have since overrun more than half of the area, defying global calls for a halt to the violence.

In the past three weeks, over 900 people have been killed in eastern Ghouta, according to the UK-based monitoring group.

At least 20 civilians - including four children - were killed in Douma on Saturday, in addition to 17 civilians in other battlefront towns, said the Observatory.

For Eastern Ghouta's civilians, trapped in underground shelters but deprived of food and water, there is a constant dilemma - whether to seek supplies or stay inside.

Fighters from Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), a group made up mostly of al-Qaeda's ex-affiliate al-Nusra Front, are to be evacuated to the northern province of Idlib, Jaish al-Islam said in a statement published on Twitter.

But UN human rights chief Zeid Ra'ad al-Hussein has said, in comments criticised by Syria's government, that its assault was "legally, and morally, unsustainable".

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The Observatory also said warplanes, helicopters and artillery had been used in bombardment of the area overnight.

State TV showed 13 bearded men it said had earlier handed themselves over to authorities boarding a bus.

Capturing the enclave would be the latest in a string of victories for the Syrian regime since Russian jets entered the fray in 2015, and it would be the biggest blow against rebels since they were driven from Aleppo in December 2016. It has been besieged by government forces since 2013.

"The situation is relatively good today".

Shelling and air strikes slammed into Douma on Saturday, trapping residents inside their basements for hours, AFP's correspondents in the town said.

Almost half of the food aid could not be delivered while the United Nations said Syrian authorities removed some medical and health supplies from the trucks.

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The postponement came as Syrian government forces intensified their offensive on the area, known as eastern Ghouta, under the cover of airstrikes. "None of the civilians has been able to leave the enclave over the last 24 hours", Yevtushenko said.

The military gains have caused wide-scale internal displacement as civilians flee government advances toward areas in the territory still held by the rebels.

"Living conditions are harsh".

"They are putting pressure on the civilians and luring them out (of Eastern Ghouta)".

State television reported on Friday morning that the army had control over the village of Beit Sawa, where rebel officials on Thursday said insurgents had recaptured some positions.

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