Aid trucks reach Ghouta before retreating

07 March, 2018, 00:25 | Author: Charlene Valdez
  • Media playback is unsupported on your device                  Media caption Footage shows the aid convoy reaching

A convoy of 46 trucks entered eastern Ghouta on Monday for the first time since an intense government assault on the area began two weeks ago.

The strikes on Douma reduced homes to piles of rubble on the sides of roads, an AFP correspondent there said. Other UN officials say the use of inaccurate bombs may be a tactic aimed at scaring civilians, who would in turn pressure rebel groups to surrender.

The Syrian air force recently dropped millions of leaflets on the district informing civilians about a safe humanitarian corridor prepared for their evacuation under a Russian-proposed humanitarian pause.

More than 780 civilians - including 170 children - have been killed since Russia-backed regime forces launched an assault on the besieged enclave outside Damascus on February 18.

United Nations sources told the Guardian that Moscow's use of less accurate bombs, which are closer in their capability to the Syrian air force's weapons stockpiles, may be meant to make it more hard for war crimes investigators to identify who is responsible for civilian deaths from airstrikes in Syria.

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Regime troops and allied forces have advanced rapidly across farmland in the east of the enclave in recent days, the Observatory said.

"We have been looking at aerial bombardments for quite a while now, that the Russian air force as well as the Syrian air force have been involved in where there have been heavy civilian casualties", said panel member Hanny Megally.

Later it reported 18 people suffered breathing difficulties following a strike by a military aircraft in Hammuriyeh, without being able to specify the cause of the illnesses.

Monday's convoy was delivering "health and nutrition supplies, along with food for 27,500 people in need", OCHA said.

A stifling, years-long government siege has forced Eastern Ghouta's estimated 400,000 inhabitants to scrape by on smuggled goods, produce from local farms and rare aid deliveries.

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The U.N. investigators, noting that efforts for the U.N. Security Council to refer Syria to the International Criminal Court (ICC) have stalled, due to Russian vetoes, welcomed national jurisdictions taking up more cases.

The government routinely removes lifesaving medical supplies from aid convoys, in a pattern of denying such aid to civilians living in opposition areas.

On Tuesday, at least nine civilians were killed in Eastern Ghouta as fresh regime air strikes and clashes shook the enclave outside Damascus, a monitor and AFP correspondents said. As President Macron said yesterday, we expect it to take real, concrete measures to bring an immediate halt to indiscriminate shelling and sieges against civilians. Russian Federation has been a staunch ally of Syrian President Bashar Assad, helping him turn the tide of the bloody civil war in his favor.

Meanwhile, medical staff in Hammouriya in eastern Ghouta reported 12 people from two families were admitted to hospital with chlorine gas inhalation symptoms after a strike late on Monday night.

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