Syria: Aid convoy enters besieged Eastern Ghouta

Nellie Chapman
March 7, 2018

At least 50 people were killed on Monday, a monitor said, as the United Nations said dozens of trucks carrying aid reached the main town of Douma.

Marwa Awad, a WFP Communications Officer based in Damascus, said plans are under way for another humanitarian convoy to access Eastern Ghouta on Thursday.

Over the weekend, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported that regime-affiliated forces advanced over about 25 percent of Ghouta, nearing their goal of cutting it in half.

The Russian defence ministry said rebels could leave with their families and personal weapons through a secure corridor out of eastern Ghouta, where Moscow-backed government forces have made rapid gains in a fierce assault.

Douma - An global convoy has cut short its mission to Syria's rebel enclave of Eastern Ghouta after delivering desperately needed aid as the regime pounded the region, killing dozens as it seized more ground.

The patriarch of the Syriac Orthodox Church denounced a statement issued by the head of the World Council of Churches regarding the situation in Syria, in particular the rebel-held enclave of Eastern Ghouta near Damascus.

The aid arrives after the Observatory says that regime troops have retaken a third of the enclave.

Eastern Ghouta has endured tremendous suffering, with over 400,000 people there experiencing severe shortages of food, fuel, medicines and drinking water.

The daily humanitarian pauses would continue, allowing any civilians wanting to leave the region to do so, Assad said.

Rebel factions said they launched a counteroffensive Sunday, sending fighters behind government lines in a series of attacks.

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The Security Council resolution, which passed unanimously on February 25, has gone unheeded.

Jaish al-Islam, one of the armed opposition groups in Eastern Ghouta, said the government's "scorched earth policy" had forced rebels to retreat and regroup, but vowed to recover lost territory.

In another phone call, French President Emmanuel Macron urged Iranian President Hassan Rouhani to exert "necessary pressure" on Assad to halt "indiscriminate" attacks on civilians in Ghouta.

Hundreds of civilians have been killed in the besieged enclave of satellite towns and rural areas on the outskirts of Damascus in one of the fiercest bombing campaigns of the seven-year-old war.

Earlier in the day, at least 34 civilians were killed by forces of the Bashar al-Assad regime in Eastern Ghouta, according to local civil defense sources.

"Before accusing Russian Federation of violating the United Nations Security Council Resolution 2401 concerning Eastern Ghouta, the White House spokeswoman should have acquainted herself with the document".

Monday's announcement came a day after troops recaptured Nashabiyah and a number of villages and farms in eastern Ghouta in the largest advances since the government's wide-scale operation began last month.

"We hope that the convoy may proceed as planned and will be followed by other convoys", al-Za'tari said. The convoy will be led by Ali al-Za'tari, the United Nations resident humanitarian coordinator in Syria.

Dana White, chief Pentagon spokeswoman, denied that Mattis took part in discussions about military action in Syria and said the "conversation did not happen".

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