Syrian Government Forces Advance in Eastern Ghouta

Published March 5th, 2018 - 02:05 GMT
Syrian children in back of truck in besieged Eastern Ghouta (AFP/File Photo)
Syrian children in back of truck in besieged Eastern Ghouta (AFP/File Photo)

Syrian government forces gained control of several villages and farms in the rebel-held enclave of Eastern Ghouta Sunday.

Syria's military claimed about 25 percent of the Damascus suburb, monitors for the U.K.-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

A United Nations aid convoy planned for Sunday hasn't been able to enter the enclave amid the fighting.

Government forces advanced from several fronts, mostly gaining control of villages and farms controlled by the al-Nusra Front on the eastern side of the enclave, according to state media.

The rebel group Jaish al-Islam issued a statement saying it retreated from two areas in Eastern Ghouta and accused the Syrian regime of employing a "scorched earth" strategy of bombardment.

Hundreds of people reportedly fled the bombardment and headed westward, where fighting is less intense.

The White Helmets, a Syrian volunteer rescue group, reported on Friday that 674 civilians had died since the beginning of air attacks on Feb. 18, which have persisted despite the United Nations Security Council unanimously approving a 30-day cease-fire last week.

U.S. President Donald Trump and British Prime Minister Theresa May spoke about the situation in Syria during a phone call on Sunday.



"The leaders agreed that the Syrian regime and its Russian and Iranian sponsors must immediately and fully implement United Nations Security Council Resolution 2401, which calls for an immediate ceasefire across Syria," the White House said in a statement, adding that Trump and May believe Russian President Vladimir Putin bears some responsibility for the crisis.

"The leaders condemned sharply the bombing in East Ghouta. They affirmed that the United States and United Kingdom will hold Russia accountable for compelling the Assad regime to halt attacks against civilian areas and for granting access to humanitarian relief in East Ghouta.

"The leaders agreed that Russian President Vladimir Putin's recent statements on nuclear weapons development were irresponsible."

French President Emmanuel Macron made a separate phone call to Iranian President Hassan Rouhani urging him to exert "necessary pressure" on Syria to halt "indiscriminate" attacks on civilians in Eastern Ghouta.

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad vowed the military's offensive against rebels in East Ghouta will continue.

"The operation against terrorism must continue, while at the same time civilians will continue to have the possibility to evacuate from the war zone," he said.


This article has been adapted from its original source.


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