Tuesday, 25 September, 2018

Syria: NGO, loyalists deploy troops for Ghouta attack

A boy watches as an aid convoy of Syrian Arab Red Crescent drives through the besieged town of Douma in eastern Ghouta on Monday Trump and May blame Russia, Syria for E Ghouta suffering
Delia Stanley | 08 March, 2018, 02:09

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights war monitor said pro-Syrian government forces had managed to bring the strip of territory linking the north and south of what remains of rebel-held eastern Ghouta within firing range, effectively bisecting the densely populated region on the outskirts of Damascus.

A war monitoring group says at least 50 people have been killed in government shelling and airstrikes on the eastern Ghouta suburbs of the Syrian capital.

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad said on Sunday that the chemical attacks allegations against the Syrian government are part of the Western "dictionary of lies", state news agency SANA reported.

Government forces open a Russian-backed campaign against Eastern Ghouta with more than 260 rockets and intense air raids.

But they stressed that "the use of unguided bombs, including blast weapons, in a densely civilian populated area may amount to the war crime of launching indiscriminate attacks".

A Syrian army colonel said forces will lift the siege on the militant-held Damascus suburb of Eastern Ghouta, making it possible for people trapped in the embattled enclave to return to the "state's embrace" soon. Military operations to beat back government attempts to advance into and capture Misraba were "ongoing", he added.

The misery in a besieged rebel suburb of Damascus caused by the Syrian government's relentless push to crush the area is indicative of a "new phase of horror" in Syria's war, a top United Nations official has said.

A ministry statement said the fighters could take their guns and their families, but did not specify where they would go.

The U.N. humanitarian coordinator in Syria has appealed to the government to commit to a ceasefire in eastern Ghouta on Thursday to let in an aid convoy containing medical supplies that were stripped from a delivery on Monday.

The Russian mission to the United Nations in Geneva did not immediately respond to the findings.

The Russian Defence Ministry said the An-26 twin-engine turboprop crashed Tuesday while preparing to land at the Hemeimeem air base in Syria, killing all 33 passengers and six crew on board.

International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) convoy seen crossing into eastern Ghouta near Wafideen camp in Damascus, March 5, 2018. The U.N. investigators had previously documented 33 chemical weapons attacks in Syria.

The fate of Eastern Ghouta reflects the "siege, starve and surrender" Assad playbook in several other urban battles in Syria's complex conflict.

"It shows what a farce this de-escalation zone has become", Nauert said.

Airstrikes and shelling there on Monday killed 94 civilians, according to the Union of Medical Care and Relief Organizations, based in France. "The people sit with multiple families, with thousands of families in basement shelters", he said.

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