Strikes batter Syria's Ghouta region as death toll hits 800

Randy Kelley
March 8, 2018

For their side, activists condemned the heavy government shelling on Eastern Ghouta, with the Observatory placing the number of the killed people at 800. The sounds of explosions and jets could be heard.

Fleeing residents are heading either north, to East Ghouta's de facto capital city of Douma, or to towns further south.

The town of Mesbra was the site of the most recent attack as Syrian forces attempt to cut Ghouta in two. The Observatory said this advance deeper into the centre of the enclave enabled them to bring the remaining north-south link within firing range.

Russian Federation has offered rebel fighters in Eastern Ghouta safe exit from the region if they agree to surrender their enclave to government forces, Reuters reported on Tuesday.

He pointed out regular supplies of humanitarian aid to the population, as five humanitarian convoys organized by the United Nations and the Arab Red Crescent Society reached destinations over the past seven days. And Syria's failure to implement it has only been made worse by Russia's apparent inability or unwillingness to push its ally in Damascus to comply.

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has vowed to continue the offensive in eastern Ghouta, one of the deadliest in the war. The Russian military quickly insisted the plane was not shot down and blamed the crash on a technical error.

Fighting has been going on for weeks, and has taken the lives of over 700 civilians.

Netherlands U.N. Ambassador Karel van Oosterom was speaking after the Council was briefed behind closed doors on the situation in Syria at the request of Britain and France.

"The situation is catastrophic", said a doctor speaking from the rebel pocket.

Ingy Sedky says there needs to be repeated and continuous access to eastern Ghouta by humanitarian organizations.

Omar al-Idlibi, an SDF commander, told AFP that "our people in Afrin are our priority".

The opposition says such evacuation agreements amount to a policy of demographic change by which Assad has forcibly displaced those who oppose him.

"God willing, very, very, very soon ... they will return to the state's embrace", the official added.

A rebel spokesman dismissed the offer on Tuesday, saying it was "psychological warfare".

Among other key findings, the panel said that an air strike by a "Russian fixed-wing aircraft" using unguided weapons last November hit a market killing at least 84 people and injuring 150 in Atareb, west of Aleppo, in a "de-escalation zone" declared by Russia, Iran and Turkey.

That the United Nations report confirmed 150 civilians killed in the USA strikes was particularly noteworthy, because while there were reports of a death toll in that range before, the Pentagon had dismissed them, and claimed no more than 30 killed in the incidents.

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