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Death toll tops 1000 in regime's assault on Syria's Ghouta: monitor

11 March 2018

The Syrian army intensified its onslaught in eastern Ghouta on Saturday with advances that a war monitor and state media said had splintered the enclave, though a rebel official denied this.

A United Nations aid convoy has managed to enter the rebel-held area of Eastern Ghouta in Syria which has been under intense bombardment, officials say.

Taking advantage of the relative quiet, 13 trucks loaded with 2,400 food parcels entered Eastern Ghouta on Friday morning, the International Committee of the Red Cross said.

On another front, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said his forces and allied rebels could enter the northern Syrian town of Afrin "at any moment", a day after they seized another town in the area.

Pro-government forces have now reportedly taken half the area. About 900 people have been killed in the past three weeks of bombardment.

"Shelling in proximity of Douma (in) eastern Ghouta today is putting the. convoy at risk", said United Nations resident coordinator Ali al-Za'tari said. Syrian state TV aired live footage from inside the town and saying that troops are less than a kilometer (0.6 miles) from troops on the western side.

The campaign has killed more than 1,000 people, majority civilians, in less than a month, according to medical staff and monitoring groups in the area.

"Once you came in, we felt well", said one of the women in the basement. "Entire families eat one meal in several days", he said.

The central town of Misraba has also been captured.

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He dragged himself out of the bush onto the road and a private security auto picked him up and took him to the nearest hospital. Gwala, who was supposed to compete in theSouth African national championships later this month, somehow managed to escape.

The situation in the militant-held region escalated last month after government forces launched an operation dubbed "Damascus Steel", in a bid to clear the region of militants.

"The bombing is so intense".

The Observatory and the opposition's Syrian Civil Defense, also known as the White Helmets, reported that airstrikes and shelling resumed late Friday afternoon on eastern Ghouta. "The advance is the result of a scorched earth policy".

Douma is the largest urban centre in Syria's Eastern Ghouta, and regime forces on Saturday were able to isolate it from the rest of the opposition bastion.

But the group represents only a small portion of the insurgent presence in the enclave, and both Jaish al-Islam and Failaq al-Rahman have said they are not negotiating a similar deal for themselves.

The same area saw an increased number of confrontations between locals and militants after the opening of Jisrein-Mlekha checkpoint on Thursday, according to spokesman for the Russian Center for Reconciliation in Syria, Major General Vladimir Zolotukhin.

A negotiator from Hammuriyeh said a "civilian delegation" wanted to hold talks with the government to end the fighting in the area. According to estimates, the new welfare load will benefit about 12,000 people, stated Sana News Agency.

Syrian troops have been on the offensive in eastern Damascus for weeks and the violence has left almost 1,000 people dead.

Death toll tops 1000 in regime's assault on Syria's Ghouta: monitor