Moscow confirms role in Eastern Ghouta offensive

Syrians civilians evacuated from the Eastern Ghouta enclave pass with belongings through the regime-controlled corridor opened by government forces in Hawsh al-Ashaari east of the enclave town of Hamouria on the outskirts of the capital Damascus on March

The Syrian armed forces continued operations in the eastern Ghouta of Damascus and entered a strategic town in the southern pocket of the terrorist-held region on Thursday.

In footage from state TV, some people are in vehicles and others are walking with their belongings. A herd of sheep was among the crowds leaving through the crossing.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said on Wednesday that Turkey-led forces controlled 70pc of the wider Kurdish enclave, after seizing several villages.

Juan Mohammad, Director of Afrin Hospital, said his medical staff was having difficulty treating the high capacity of wounded civilians since dozens of casualties arrive every hour as a result of the heavy bombardment on the city. "We must find a way to lessen the suffering", he said.

Moscow said Thursday it was committed to helping Syria's regime "finish off" rebels in Eastern Ghouta, confirming its military is playing a role in the assault on the rebel enclave.

"We had been trapped in the basements and did not dare come out, in the cellars and tunnels", a man who left the rebel pocket to government territory told Reuters on the outskirts of Hammouriyeh. The Turkish capture of main Afrin dam has cut off supply of potable water to city, which now depends on six wells whose water, in addition to being insufficient for 350,000 people living in Afrin, "is not chlorinated, which puts civilians at risk with Bring diseases". They are running out of room to flee as government forces close in on the space.

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The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said 25 aid trucks entered its northern pocket, controlled by rebel faction Jaish al-Islam, and was headed to the town of Douma.

Evacuations of civilians from Eastern Ghouta began earlier this week, after a daily, 5-hour ceasefire was called last month by Russian Federation, a major ally of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Air strikes on the town of Zamalka there killed 12 people on Thursday, it said. Dozens of cases of suffocation are reported by the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

Government and Russian forces also targeted a column of civilians trying to flee another town, Hamouria, early Thursday, according to the activists and the Observatory.

Over the past seven years, Syria's conflict has killed hundreds of thousands of people, driven millions more from their homes, disturbed the regional balance of power and dragged in foreign nations whose rivalry has upset existing alliances.

However, Russian-backed government troops have since February 18 pressed a ferocious air and ground campaign in Ghouta that has brought more than 60 percent of the one-time opposition bastion under government control.

The United States and Russian Federation also urged Turkey to take note of call to cease-fire throughout Syria agreed last month by UN Security Council.

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