Advances by the Syrian army reported in Eastern Ghouta

  • Advances by the Syrian army reported in Eastern Ghouta

Advances by the Syrian army reported in Eastern Ghouta

Insurgent groups in eastern Ghouta deny this, saying people have not left for fear of government persecution, but a Reuters witness on Friday saw gunfire and mortar fire from inside rebel territory near one of the crossing points.

Douma is the largest urban centre in Syria's Eastern Ghouta, and regime forces on Saturday were able to isolate it from the rest of the opposition bastion.

A spokesman for Jaish al-Islam, one of the two main insurgent groups in Eastern Ghouta, said rebels had repelled the Mesraba attack.

Syria's state-run television later broadcast footage it said showed 13 militants and their families leaving the besieged enclave in suburban Damascus.

Jaish al-Islam, one of the main rebel groups in Eastern Ghouta, announced it had agreed to the evacuation of several Hay'et Tahrir al-Sham fighters - previously part of al-Qaeda-linked al-Nusra Front - who were detained by the group in Eastern Ghouta. Its decision to move the prisoners appears to be an attempt to nullify the government's justification for attacking the enclave to fight terrorists.

Rebels in recent days tried to slow the advance with an attempted counter-offensive, but were struggling to hold off President Bashar al-Assad's forces. Observers say despite the continuing increase in civilian fatalities, there is little prospect that fighting in eastern Ghouta will ease.

The government and its Russian backers, determined to wrest eastern Ghouta from rebel control after seven years of war, recently intensified the shelling and bombardment to clear the way for its troops to advance on the ground. "So Ghouta will gain by finishing with these people".

An aid convoy that failed to deliver humanitarian supplies to Syria's besieged eastern Ghouta last week due to violence delivered "urgently needed" aid on Friday despite fighting, which took place extremely close to the convoy, the Red Cross said.

Delegation from Syria rebel enclave mulls evacuation deal

The UN humanitarian agencies have sounded the alarm about the worsening humanitarian situation for 400,000 people live in that region, where activists said over 800 people have been killed since late last month by the heavy bombardment and military showdown in areas of Eastern Ghouta.

A convoy was unable to finish unloading on Monday because of continued fighting, bringing in the remaining undelivered food parcels on Friday despite bombardment nearby.

Syrian troops have been on the offensive in eastern Damascus for weeks and the violence has left almost 1,000 people dead.

A U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees official who entered eastern Ghouta earlier this week said the civilians stuck inside the enclave - mostly women and children - would like to leave but have nowhere to go and feel they can't exit safely from the designated checkpoints.

That's according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. Another man said there were 15 families in the basement who have been hiding for days.

Damascus and Moscow accuse the insurgents of shooting at civilians to prevent them fleeing.

"Living conditions are harsh".

The aid was delivered with helicopters hovering overhead and warplanes targeting areas outside Douma, a correspondent in the town said.