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Syrians flee as government forces advance in eastern Ghouta

Syrians flee as government forces advance in eastern Ghouta

State media earlier said the military advanced on several fronts, taking control of villages and farms in the besieged area just to the east of the capital, Damascus.

Both sides have been locked in fierce fighting in the region since February 25, when regime forces stepped up attacks to seize eastern Ghouta, one of the last remaining areas near Damascus still under opposition control.

Russian Federation called for daily, five-hour ceasefires to deliver aid and evacuate civilians in eastern Ghouta.

The witness said people had fled areas where regime forces had seized ground at the eastern periphery of the opposition enclave, and were seeking shelter in areas in the heart of the eastern Ghouta.

The attacks carried out by the Assad regime and its supporters in Eastern Ghouta have killed more than 700 civilians according to reports.

Three people were also killed when Assad regime forces attack a residential area between Misraba and Duma districts with rocket and mortar shells.

The Syrian government and Russian Federation said terrorists fired 65 mortar shells at the capital and its surroundings in the day.

Rebels in Eastern Ghouta have survived years of siege but now are succumbing to a tried and tested military tactic of siege compounded with overwhelming bombardment.

More news: Two dead in MI campus shooting, gunman on the loose

The army has been accused of targeting civilians, but it says it is trying to liberate the area from those Damascus describes as terrorists.

While falling short of a 30-day ceasefire demanded by the UN, Russia's announcement last week of daily humanitarian pauses in fighting had raised hopes of some aid deliveries and evacuations.

Jaish al-Islam shares control of rebel-held parts of Eastern Ghouta with Faylaq al-Rahman and Ahrar al-Sham.

Orient TV said advances by forces loyal to the Assad regime had triggered wide scale displacement.

In a Sunday phone call, French President Emanuel Macron asked his Iranian counterpart, Hassan Rouhani, to put pressure on the Syrian regime to end its attacks on Eastern Ghouta and allow humanitarian aid to enter the area, according to a statement released by the Elysee Palace.

Eastern Ghouta is one of the last major rebel-held areas of the country, which has been ravaged by civil war for nearly seven years.

United Nations regional humanitarian coordinator Panos Moumtzis said violence has escalated in eastern Ghouta and mortars fired into Damascus had killed and injured scores of civilians.

"Instead of a much-needed reprieve, we continue to see more fighting, more death, and more disturbing reports of hunger and hospitals being bombed", he said. "This collective punishment of civilians is simply unacceptable", he added.


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