Syrian Army seals off major eastern Ghouta towns

Syrian Army seals off major eastern Ghouta towns

Syrian Army seals off major eastern Ghouta towns

People are seen with their belongings in the besieged town of Douma, Eastern Ghouta, in Damascus, Syria March 8, 2018.

Amid a lull in Damascus' embattled rebel-held suburbs, a small team of relief workers entered the eastern Ghouta area yesterday to deliver remaining aid left over from a previous mission earlier in the week, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said.

It showed footage of people getting onto a bus.

The Syrian government and its key ally Russian Federation say a daily five-hour pause, which began in principle last week, does not apply to the targeting of some of the rebel groups within Eastern Ghouta.

Both the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based war monitor, and a military media unit run by the Government's ally Hezbollah said the army had captured the town of Mesraba and advanced into surrounding farms.

Aid agencies have tried to deliver aid into eastern Ghouta, but they have only been able to bring in a portion of the amount they wanted as Takfiri militants continue to bomb areas around the besieged enclave.

But the government of President Bashar al-Assad has vowed to continue military operations, as it regards nearly all rebel groups as terrorists.

'Man of mystery' cooperates with Mueller in Russian Federation probe
Legal experts expressed doubt that Mueller would agree to set a deadline for his investigation under any circumstances. Priebus shared no details beyond saying the Special Counsel's team were courteous and professional.

Syrian state TV reported that the army is close to cutting the enclave in two.

Air strikes started up again after the evacuation, killing nine people and injuring around 28, the Observatory said. "Entire families eat one meal in several days", he said.

The assault has followed a divide-and-conquer strategy, eating away at rebel-held territory, and government forces on Saturday successfully isolated Ghouta's main town of Douma in a blow for the beleaguered rebels.

Insurgent groups in eastern Ghouta deny this, but a Reuters witness on Friday saw gunfire and mortar fire from inside the rebel territory near one of the crossing points. It accused the government of using "poison gas".

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.

"I don't want to leave, but I don't want any harm to happen to my family", said Douma resident Abu Ahmad al-Ghoutani, who said he has two children.

On Thursday, a United Nations commission of inquiry released a report accusing the Assad regime of committing war crimes in eastern Ghouta, including the use of chemical weapons against civilians, causing mass starvation and preventing medical evacuations.

Related news