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Regime troops encircle Harasta in embattled Eastern Ghouta

Local | 2018-03-14 13:12:00
Regime troops encircle Harasta in embattled Eastern Ghouta
Local authorities outside Damascus say regime forces have cut off their town from a surrounding rebel-held Eastern Ghouta, isolating 20,000 residents with no access to aid.

A member of the local council of Harasta said Wednesday that residents have been in underground shelters for long periods amid heavy bombardment. He said government forces have seized local cemeteries, forcing residents to bury their dead elsewhere, AP reported.

Harasta is in Eastern Ghouta, a rebel-held region that has been under a crippling siege and daily bombardment for weeks. Opposition activists say more than 1,100 civilians have been killed since the latest offensive began in February.

Regime forces have recently split the enclave in two and cut off the towns of Douma and Harasta.

The regime forces have intensified ground and aerial bombing overnight on Douma and Harasta as rebels still show fierce resistance despite the deadliest offensive, local reporter said Wednesday.

Zaman al-Wasl reporter said the regime jets had conducted more than 50 night raids, using cluster and barrel bombs.

Wednesday's bombardment by regime and its ally Russia killed 25 civilians, among them three children, in the embattled rebel enclave of Eastern Ghouta Wednesday, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights  said.

"At least 25 civilians including three children were killed on Wednesday, most of them in regime air strikes and others in Russian raids on an area controlled by Faylaq al-Rahman," a rebel group, the Britain-based monitoring group said.

The death toll reached a total of 1200 in three weeks of deadly strikes.
The Assad regime and Russia have been carrying out a fierce bombing campaign and ground assault against the besieged enclave since February 18, despite a U.N. Security Council resolution calling for a countrywide ceasefire.

Eastern Ghouta is the last remaining opposition-controlled zone on the outskirts of the capital, and rebels there have regularly fired rockets onto Damascus. 

Eastern Ghouta is home to around 400,000 people, living under a five-year siege that has made food and medical aid exceedingly rare.

Civil Defense group said rescuing works are underway as tens of bodies are still under the rubble. On Tuesday, they pulled out eight civilians, including seven from the same family, in Zamalka town.

A military media unit run by the Iran-backed Lebanese group Hezbollah, an ally of the Syrian government, said the army had entirely surrounded the town of Douma.

Rebel groups in Eastern Ghouta have vowed they will fight on. A statement issued by Free Syrian Army factions there late on Saturday said they had taken a decision not to accept a surrender and negotiated withdrawal.

The EU's foreign policy chief on Tuesday called on the Bashar al-Assad regime to stop attacks on Eastern Ghouta enclave completely.

Speaking at the European Parliament’s General Assembly meeting, Federica Mogherini pointed out that a proposal by Russia for a five-hour daily humanitarian “pause” to ensure the distribution of humanitarian supplies and civilian evacuations is important as a first step but is not enough. (With Agencies)


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