losangelesnewstoday.com March 20, 2018

Amid lull, Red Cross delivers aid to Syria's Ghouta

11 March 2018, 01:00 | Katrina Lee

Syrian army gains ground in intensified Ghouta assault

Delegation from Syria rebel enclave mulls evacuation deal

Almost 950 civilians have been killed since Russia-backed government forces launched a blistering assault on the last opposition bastion near Damascus on Feb 18.

The campaign has killed more than 1,000 people, a lot of them civilians, in less than a month, according to medical staff and monitoring groups in the area.

The convoy of 13 trucks delivered 2,400 food parcels, which can sustain 12,000 people for one month as well as 3,248 wheat flour bags, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said in a statement.

On Friday, an emergency aid convoy crossed front lines into eastern Ghouta and delivered its supplies.

SCMM said troops on Saturday reached the center of the town of Misraba, adding that opposition fighters are crumbling amid the offensive.

On Saturday, at least one child was killed and four other civilians wounded in rebel shelling on eastern districts of Damascus, according to state news agency SANA.

The U.N. said airstrikes and shelling in eastern Ghouta continued for hours while the convoy was unloading supplies.

MSF said doctors inside the enclave were exhausted.

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"After almost nine hours inside, the decision was made to leave for security reasons and to avoid jeopardizing the safety of humanitarian teams on the ground", said Jens Laerke, deputy spokesperson for the U.N.'s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

The humanitarian medical group based its estimate off data from two-dozen medical facilities it supports.

Eastern Ghouta, a 105 square km agricultural region consisting of several towns and farmlands, poses the last threat to the capital due to its proximity to government-controlled neighborhoods east of Damascus and their ongoing mortar attacks that target residential areas in the capital, pushing people over the edge.

Syrian state television broadcast footage from inside Mesraba; the capture of that town and surrounding farmland brings important roads under Syrian army fire, effectively cutting the large rebel-held towns of Harasta and Douma off from each other.

The violence has continued despite a United Nations security council resolution demanding a 30-day ceasefire and the delivery of humanitarian aid "without delay".

More than 340,000 people have been killed since Syria's war started in 2011 with a brutal crackdown on anti-government protests.

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.

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