Russian Federation defends Syrian government Ghouta offensive at UN

Pauline Gross
March 13, 2018

Assad and his ally Russian Federation say the assault on eastern Ghouta is needed to end the rule of insurgents over the civilian population and to stop mortar fire on nearby Damascus.

More than 1,100 civilians have been killed in the onslaught on the biggest rebel stronghold near Damascus since it began three weeks ago with a withering bombardment, said the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

Reports on Sunday alleged that dozens of civilians had managed to flee Eastern Ghouta through a humanitarian corridor.

Russia, which backs Syria's government in the civil war, and the United States, which has backed rebel forces seeking to topple Assad, met secretly in Jordan in June and announced a ceasefire in Syria's southwest a month later.

A rebel source said some of the targets hit in the raids were close to a front line in northern Deraa close to a major Syrian army garrison near the government-held town of Izra.

Rebel mortar and rocket fire has also rained down on the capital, killing two civilians on Monday in the Al-Kabbas neighbourhood, according to state news agency SANA.

State television on Sunday broadcast from the eastern Ghouta town of Mudeira, which state television and a war monitor said the army had captured to link up with units on the other side of the enclave.

Home to some 400,000 civilian residents, Eastern Ghouta has remained the target of a crippling siege by the Syrian regime - of which Russian Federation is a major ally - for the last five years. It would also be the worst setback for rebels since the opposition was ousted from the eastern half of the city of Aleppo in late 2016 following a similar siege and bombing campaign.

More than 1,000 people, including many children, are in urgent need of evacuation, according to the United Nations.

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"In this case, the intelligence community is working diligently to verify what happened there", Pompeo said in an interview on CBS' "Face the Nation".

Syrian government forces advance in the area bordering Damascus and Ghouta as heavy fighting in the region continues.

People in Eastern Ghouta say they dread a similar fate.

The largest rebel group in eastern Ghouta, the Army of Islam, said it had reached an agreement with government-allied Russian forces to evacuate the wounded from the enclave.

The advance cut both Douma and another town from the rest of the rebel enclave.

All three towns are controlled by Islamist rebel group Faylaq al-Rahman, which has repeatedly denied engaging in talks with the regime.

France is prepared to launch targeted strikes against any site in Syria used to deploy chemical attacks that result in the deaths of civilians, President Emmanuel Macron said.

Mattis said that he was aware of reports of chlorine attacks on Eastern Ghouta but said that he did not have conclusive evidence that gas had been used.

Other reports by GizPress

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