Aid reaches Douma, despite shelling

Aid reaches Douma, despite shelling

The delivery of aid to Syria's rebel-held Eastern Ghouta has been "postponed", the Red Cross has said, as Syrian government forces stepped up their offensive against rebels in the enclave.

Syrian Army and allies are preparing to conduct a siege of the towns of Douma and Mesraba, two terrorist strongholds in Eastern Ghouta, media reported, citing military and local sources.

The group said the numbers - dating from the start of the renewed Syrian regime offensive on February 18 until March 4 - are an "underestimate" and do not include the data of all MSF-supported medical facilities or facilities not supported by the humanitarian organization.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said regime warplanes pounded Douma, while missiles fell on Harasta and Hamouriyah.

In attacks since Wednesday morning, ground attacks and airstrike targeted Eastern Ghouta's Douma and Haresta districts and the Sakba, Ayn Terma, Arbin, Hammuriyah, Beit Sawa, Jisrin, Misraba and Kafr Batna regions.

But the government maintains its blockade and renews bombardment in mid-November, pulverising buildings and streets.

The observatory said at least 60 people in the rebel enclave were left struggling to breathe after airstrikes and barrel bombs hit the towns of Saqba and Hammuriyeh.

In a speech he gave before the UN's Council for Human Rights, Zeid Ra'ad al-Hussein, who is the high commissioner for human rights, said that the year 2017 alone witnessed more than 1000 bombings.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said that over 60 residents had severe problems breathing after airstrikes and barrel bombs slammed the towns of Sabqa and Houmuriyah, killing nearly 90. Asked about widespread activist reports of attacks using chlorine, white phosphorus and incendiary weapons, Whittall said MSF has received reports of their use, but could not confirm or refute the claims.

"The U.N. continues to receive reports of escalating fighting in east Ghouta and shelling on Damascus, endangering civilians and preventing humanitarian assistance from reaching hundreds of thousands of people in need, including thousands of vulnerable children", said Linda Tom, spokeswoman for the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

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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.

The Syrian government on Thursday prepared the second humanitarian corridor, after ten days of a failed attempt to receive civilians from the first designated crossing in Wafidin area northeast of Damascus.

"The situation is relatively good today".

Experts say that by slicing the territory, the Syrian government succeeds in severing supply routes and squeezing the rebels further inside the enclave.

But he added that shortages are still acute, causing great hardship.

"Entire families eat one meal in several days", he said.

United Nations aid agencies have pleaded with the Syrian government and its ally Russian Federation to halt the campaign and allow access to bring in aid after a convoy on Monday was unable to complete its delivery because of the fighting.

The International Committee of the Red Cross said a convoy of 13 trucks carrying food parcels for 12,000 people went into Douma - the largest and most populated town in the Eastern Ghouta.

Russian Federation insists that using violence against civilians, preventing them from leaving the region and using them as a human shield is inadmissible, Yevtushenko went on.