Syrian government splits rebel-held Eastern Ghouta

Syrian government splits rebel-held Eastern Ghouta

On Thursday, a United Nations commission of inquiry released a report accusing the Assad regime of committing war crimes in eastern Ghouta, including the use of chemical weapons against civilians, causing mass starvation and preventing medical evacuations. He said they would "purge" the town and then carry on further east.

For President Bashar al-Assad, it would mark a significant victory as he builds on the military momentum created by Russia's entry into the war in 2015 that has restored his rule over large swathes of the country.

Apart from Islamist groups such as Jaish al-Islam, jihadists from Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), who are mostly linked to Al-Qaeda, are also deployed there. "So Ghouta will gain by finishing with these people".

At least 800 civilians have been killed since the offensive started on February 18, according to the Syrian Observatory of Human Rights group, which monitors the conflict through a network of activists on the ground.

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.

Shelling and air strikes slammed into Douma on Saturday, trapping residents inside their basements for hours, AFP's correspondents in the town said.

It was the second convoy in one week, after deliveries on Monday were interrupted by heavy bombardment.

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As the British government officials have pointed out, this has in turn supported "tens of thousands" of United Kingdom jobs. Demonstrators are protesting against Britain for licensing 4.6 billion pounds of weapons sales to Saudi Arabia since 2015.

However, U.N. agencies said most medical supplies had been stripped from the convoy by Syrian government officials and added that the food supplies brought in were insufficient.

Observatory head Rami Abdel Rahman said talks were underway between government representatives and local figures to organise the evacuation of civilians or fighters from parts of the enclave.

A negotiator from Hammuriyeh said a "civilian delegation" wanted to hold talks with the government to end the fighting in the area.

HTS is the main force in Idlib, in Syria's northwest and the last province outside government control.

The council is to meet on Monday to hear a report from UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres and try to plod on with a bid to turn the ceasefire voted in NY into a reality on the ground.

In January, Turkey began an offensive to oust the Kurdish YPG militia from the Afrin region in northern Syria, near the Turkish border.

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