Violence claims more lives in Syria as thousands flee Ghouta

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights also said air strikes on a rebel pocket in Eastern Ghouta killed 30 people gathering to flee to government lines.

Syria's government retook two more towns in Eastern Ghouta on Saturday, a war monitor said, pressing an offensive to capture the rebel enclave on the doorstep of Damascus.

Backed by Russian Federation and Iran, government forces have thrust deep into eastern Ghouta on the capital's outskirts, splintering the rebel enclave into three separate zones.

Civilians fleeing the city of Afrin in northern Syria walk at the mountainous road of al-Ahlam while heading towards the check point in az-Ziyarah, in the government-controlled part of the northern Aleppo province.

An estimated 12,000-16,000 people had left eastern Ghouta in recent days, while fighting in the Afrin region had reportedly displaced more than 48,000, said Linda Tom, a spokeswoman for the United Nations humanitarian affairs office in Syria. Tens of thousands of civilians have fled this battleground and the Turkish offensive in the Afrin theatre in the north, swelling the number of displaced over the past week to more than 270,000.

"The humanitarian corridor in Eastern Ghouta continues to work".

The Kurdish-led civil authority of Afrin said Turkey ramped up air and artillery strikes on the densely populated town this week, killing dozens of people in the past two days.

Russian Federation expels 23 British diplomats
British Ambassador Laurie Bristow was called to the Foreign Ministry Saturday morning to be informed of the moves. In a statement , the Foreign Ministry cast Russian Federation as the aggrieved party.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says the Turkey-backed forces have taken control of half the town, with heavy fighting still underway. Many were stranded out in the streets without food, she said.

An opposition official from Ghouta privy to the negotiations told Reuters a delegation had left Harasta and was working out the terms of a deal that would follow previous surrender accords for rebel-held areas subjected to bombardment and siege.

Men, women, and children walked along a dirt road, staggering under bags and suitcases, footage on state TV showed.

The YPG and the Observatory said a Turkish air strike on Afrin town's main hospital had killed 16 people the night before.

The rare visit comes as the Syrian forces are making strides in the battles against various rebel groups in Eastern Ghouta.

The violence near Damascus came as Turkey's military rejected allegations it bombed a hospital in Afrin in northwestern Syria, where it's engaged in an offensive against Syrian Kurdish fighters.

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