Friday, 23 August, 2019

Syrian forces advance against Ghouta rebels

Lavrov has ‘no regular terms’ to describe US threat to attack Syrian troops Reuters
Patty Aguilar | 12 March, 2018, 21:25

State-run Syrian TV broadcast footage showing a group of men, women and children it says left the town of Madyara after it was captured by Syrian troops on Sunday.

Russian Federation said on Saturday that it was negotiating with rebels to let them leave Eastern Ghouta safely if they surrendered the enclave to government forces.

The United Nations has described eastern Ghouta as "hell on earth".

She recalled the USA warning after last year's sarin gas attack on Khan Sheikhoun, which an expert panel blamed on President Bashar Assad's government, that it would take action if the council didn't. It would also be the worst setback for rebels since the opposition was ousted from the eastern half of the city of Aleppo in late 2016 following a similar siege and bombing campaign.

The U.N. estimates almost 400,000 civilians are living under a crippling siege in eastern Ghouta.

More than 35 civilians have been killed in rebel fire on government-controlled zones in Damascus and its outskirts since the start of the Ghouta offensive, according to the Observatory.

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Backed by Russian Federation, the advance has battered Eastern Ghouta with air strikes, artillery and rocket fire, raising widespread global concern and prompting urgent calls for a ceasefire. Moscow has also been assisting Damascus both through supporting the struggle against the terrorist groups and by providing humanitarian aid to residents of the crisis-torn country. The town's opposition-controlled authorities said on Monday the situation there had become "catastrophic", with no more room below ground for civilians to hide.

Many, however, are too scared to leave through corridors set up by the Syrian government and their Russian allies. "The parties discussed issues related to withdrawal of the Jabhat al Nusra formations from Eastern Ghouta to Idlib as well as further destiny of the Faylaq al-Rahman group's members", Zolotukhin said.

It said existing basement bomb shelters were so overcrowded that some families were being forced to sleep out in the open, and that at least 70 people had been buried in a park because air strikes made it unsafe to reach the town's cemetery.

It says the wounded will be evacuated in stages but makes no mention if they are rebel fighters or civilians.

Evacuations have taken place in other parts of Syria, where fighters and civilians have withdrawn to rebel territory near the Turkish border. Turkish troops have destroyed water and power stations that supply the town of Afrin, making it hard for people to stay there, Ebrahim said.

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