Published: Mon, March 19, 2018
Global Media | By Garry Long

Aid convoy prepares to enter Syria's eastern Ghouta

Aid convoy prepares to enter Syria's eastern Ghouta

Earlier in the week, Maurer visited Syria's Eastern Ghouta as part of a humanitarian convoy.

French Foreign Ministry spokesperson Agnes Von der Muhll in an official letter sent to the members of the French media said, "In respect of an upsurge in violence in Syria, in particular, Eastern Ghouta and the Afrin region ... we would be grateful if you would give up any plans to go to this country or to send reporters there".

Syrian troops have been on the offensive in the area for four weeks, a campaign that has killed around 1,300 civilians.

Syrian opposition activists are reporting that dozens of people were killed and scores wounded when an airstrike hit a rebel-held town east of the capital Damascus. The de-escalation zones include - Idlib province, some parts of Latakia province, Hama and Aleppo provinces, Homs, Eastern Ghouta, Daraa and al-Quneitra provinces in southern Syria.

Maj. Gen. Vladimir Zolotukhin was quoted by Russian news agencies as saying that some 3,000 people have been leaving every hour Saturday through a government-run humanitarian corridor monitored by the Russian military.

Regime forces have taken 70 percent of the enclave since then and last weekend, regime forces divided the enclave into three sectors, isolating the major urban centers and enabling a swift advance.

Turkey's military has 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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The UK-based monitoring group said air strikes on Zamalka, in the pocket that has seen the exodus, killed 30 people gathering to leave for government lines.

The two offensives - one by the Syrian army with Russia's support, the other led by Turkey with allied Syrian rebels - entered decisive phases this week.

On Friday, YPG official Redur Khalil and the Observatory reported an airstrike on the hospital. Syrian and Russian jets struck the town of Kafr Batna with cluster bombs, napalm-like incendiary weapons, and conventional explosives, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

Turkey launched an offensive against the YPG on January 20 to clear Afrin.

The Observatory said that almost 200,000 people have fled the region of Afrin over the past days and entered government-controlled areas nearby, adding that 11 people were killed Saturday when a shell hit a truck carrying fleeing people.

"Afrin is being exterminated and destroyed".

Around 35,000 left from the city of Afrin and a further 13,000 from surrounding areas, Geekie said.

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