Syria army cuts off largest town in Ghouta


The aid was delivered as helicopters hovered overhead and warplanes targeted areas outside Douma, according to an AFP correspondent.

09 de marzo de 2018, 16:37Damascus, Mar 9 (Prensa Latina) A convoy with humanitarian assistance, including 13 truckloads of food, entered the eastern Ghouta region of eastern Syria, where terrorist groups are preventing local residents from moving to safer areas.

On Friday a United Nations convoy was able to successfully deliver aid to the area, after previous deliveries were halted by shelling.

Syrian troops on Saturday cut off the largest town in Eastern Ghouta from the rest of the rebel-held enclave which is now split in three, a monitor said.

Syrian state TV showed pictures on Friday of what it said was a number of fighters boarding a bus to leave the enclave.

Syria and its main ally Moscow have both said the assault is needed to stop rebel shelling of nearby Damascus and end the rule of Islamist insurgents over civilians in eastern Ghouta, where some 400,000 people live.

The group, Jaish al-Islam, said in a statement on Twitter on Friday that it will allow captive militant fighters to leave eastern Ghouta for Idlib Province, also held by rebels.

The UN secretary general has described the situation in eastern Ghouta as "hell on earth" and the body's high commissioner for human rights described the military offensive as a "monstrous annihilation". Almost 1,000 people have been killed in the past three weeks of relentless bombardment.

At least 215 children are among those killed since then, the Britain-based Observatory said.

"Today, they will deliver the remaining aid that wasn't delivered during the previous convoy of 5 March", a spokeswoman for the International Committee for the Red Cross (ICRC), Ingy Sedky, said.

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It was the second aid operation in a week that was disrupted by military operations, after deliveries on Monday were cut short due to bombardment.

Before the war, eastern Ghouta provided a good portion of the Damascus' food.

Russia's Defence Ministry, which supports Assad's forces in the Syrian civil war, said at the time that pro-government militias involved in the incident had been carrying out reconnaissance and no Russian servicemen had been in the area.

Forces loyal to the Syrian government have now reportedly taken back half of the area.

Rebels in recent days tried to slow the advance with an attempted counter-offensive, but were struggling to hold off President Bashar al-Assad's forces. His claim could not be independently verified. In East Ghouta, where recently the Syrian and Russian authorities established a five-hour humanitarian truce every day, the Damascus Army and its allies face extremist groups, which occupy that large area since 2012.

Regime forces have advanced rapidly through farmland in the enclave since last week, according to the Observatory, taking control of more than half of the territory from the armed opposition.

Residents fleeing the government's advance in other towns had sought refuge in Douma. "So Ghouta will gain by finishing with these people". The roads connecting the towns to each other were all covered by army fire, the Observatory said.

More than a week ago, the United Nations said those already numbered more than 700.

"They do not know anymore".