Published: Tue, March 13, 2018
Global News | By Stacy Ballard

Syria war: Wounded 'to be evacuated from Eastern Ghouta' - rebels

Syria war: Wounded 'to be evacuated from Eastern Ghouta' - rebels

The Syrian army's onslaught in eastern Ghouta, backed by air and artillery strikes, has killed about 1,160 people since February 18, a war monitor said, as President Bashar al-Assad seeks to crush the last big rebel stronghold near the capital Damascus.

After the army advances split up the enclave, Jaish al-Islam emerged as the strongest group in the town of Douma, Ahrar al-Sham in the town of Harasta and Failaq al-Rahman in the new southern pocket of eastern Ghouta.

Eastern Ghouta, a besieged area on the outskirts of Damascus with some 400,000 people, has witnessed deadly violence over the past few weeks, as Takfiri terrorist outfits have launched mortar attacks on the Syrian capital in the face of an imminent humiliating defeat, killing around 20 civilians in two weeks.

"Right now we're getting reports - I don't have evidence that I can show you - but I'm aware of the reports of chlorine gas use", he said before arriving Sunday in Oman.

One rebel commander said the strikes in the south appeared to be a warning to rebels under the Free Syrian Army (FSA) umbrella, who were planning to wage an offensive in coming days to relieve pressure on their comrades in Eastern Ghouta.

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Meanwhile, Syria's state-run SANA news agency reported that government forces had evacuated "dozens of civilians" from Misraba to shelters in government-held areas, according to AFP.

The Observatory confirmed talks were taking place on Hammuriyeh, as well as the towns of Kafr Batna, Jisreen and Saqba, but said no agreement had yet been reached.

Eastern Ghouta has been besieged for years after many of its residents joined the initial protests against Assad's rule in 2011 that triggered the slide into civil war.

Rebel-held parts of Ghouta are under a crippling government siege that has made it hard for its estimated 400,000 residents to access food and medicine.

Defeat in eastern Ghouta would deliver the rebels their biggest blow since December 2016, when a government offensive drove them from Aleppo, their largest urban stronghold.

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This is one of the first recorded civilian evacuations from Eastern Ghouta since Russian Federation and Damascus opened a humanitarian corridor more than a week ago.

Across eastern Ghouta heavy aerial strikes continued on the towns of Irbeen, Harasta and other residential areas on Monday, state media said.

Russian Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia hit back at the United States and its allies for "doing nothing but constantly blaming the Syrian regime and putting demands on Russia".

People in Eastern Ghouta say they dread a similar fate.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a British-based war monitor, said on Monday about 511,000 people had been killed in the Syrian war since it began seven years ago.

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The government denies using either incendiary weapons or chlorine gas bombs, and said on Saturday it had information that the rebels were planning to stage a fake chemical attack to discredit the army. "There's an very bad lot of reports about chlorine gas use or about symptoms that could be resulting from chlorine gas".

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