Published: Sun, March 11, 2018

Death toll tops 1000 in assault on Syria's Ghouta: Monitor

Death toll tops 1000 in assault on Syria's Ghouta: Monitor

The government forces advanced from the east and were now almost a mile away from forces on the western side of eastern Ghouta, cutting links between the rebels in northern and southern parts of the suburb.

"Regime forces have therefore divided Eastern Ghouta into three parts - Douma and its surroundings, Harasta in the west, and the rest of the towns further south", the Britain-based monitor said. The civilian death toll has since risen to around 900.

Douma's opposition-run local council issued an urgent "distress call" on Saturday to global organisations. The campaign has killed more than 1,000 people, a lot of them civilians, in less than a month, according to medical staff and monitoring groups in the area.

Eastern Ghouta, which lies just east of Damascus, is home to some 400,000 civilians and is controlled by myriad armed groups.

Almost 950 civilians have been killed since Russia-backed government forces launched a blistering assault on the last opposition bastion near Damascus on February 18.

Since February 18, the Syrian government has used aircraft and artillery to heavily bomb Eastern Ghouta, killing a thousand people, according to the SOHR.

"We are not cooperating with the UNHRC as it is politicized and propagating the policy of western states targeting Syria", Syrian Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad told reporters.

The intensity of the government's attack on an enclave that has been besieged since 2013 and suffers acute shortages of food and medical supplies has drawn Western condemnation and demands by United Nations aid agencies for a humanitarian halt in fighting.

There were no medical supplies on board Friday's convoy, which was carrying food that aid workers were unable to distribute on Monday.

Moscow had justified the continued bombardment of the area by saying extremists remained embedded in the towns and were preventing civilians from taking advantage of a designated evacuation corridor to flee the fighting.

"I've never seen such scared faces in my life that I've seen there", Mr Malik added.

He described seeing a five-storey building that had been reduced to rubble, with a powerful stench emanating from several bodies trapped underneath.

But the group represents only a small portion of the insurgent presence in the enclave, and both Jaish al-Islam and Failaq al-Rahman have said they would not negotiate a similar deal for themselves.

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