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Air strikes bombard aid warehouse in Syria rebel bastion

Douma has been under a brutal regime siege since 2013 [Getty]

Date of publication: 16 November, 2017

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Air strikes bombarded an aid warehouse in Douma, Eastern Ghouta, on Wednesday, days after the first delivery of food and medicine to the area in nearly three months.

A warehouse storing humanitarian aid in rebel-held Syrian town of Eastern Ghouta has been heavily bombarded - days after desperately needed assistance entered the area.

Food and medicine entered Douma in the Eastern Ghouta opposition enclave near Damascus on Sunday, in the first aid deliveries there in nearly three months.

Relief workers had distributed two-thirds of the aid by Wednesday but were forced to stop because of fierce fighting in the area, the deputy head of the town council told AFP.  

"There was a strike on the warehouse - two rockets. A third of the aid was still in there," said Iyad Abdulaziz. 

"The guys picked up as much (of the remaining aid) as they could, and we moved it to a different location."

Heavy air strikes and rocket fire were heard throughout the day and schools were closed on Wednesday because of the intensity of the bombardment.

Abdulaziz said relief workers were still assessing how much of the aid could be salvaged.

The Eastern Ghouta region, near the capital Damascus, is one of the last strongholds of rebels fighting Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's regime.

Read more: Syrian baby dies of hunger under brutal Assad siege 

The crippling government siege of Douma since 2013 has led to food and medicine shortages and skyrocketing prices for whatever is available for its 400,000 people.

Eastern Ghouta is one of four "de-escalation zones" in Syria, meant to usher in a reduction in violence and increased aid access.  

On Sunday, the International Committee of the Red Cross and the United Nations brought in 24 trucks of humanitarian relief into Douma. 

ICRC spokeswoman Ingy Sedky told AFP at the time the deliveries included medicine, food parcels and nutrition items for 21,500 people.

The UN, its World Food Programme, and the ICRC were not immediately available for comment on Wednesday's bombardment. 

Despite the de-escalation deal agreed by rebel backer Turkey and government allies Iran and Russia, Eastern Ghouta has come under a barrage of fire in recent days.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based monitor, said two civilians were killed in bombardment on Douma on Wednesday. 

The Syrian conflict began when the Baath regime, in power since 1963 and led by Assad, responded with military force to peaceful protests demanding democratic reforms during the Arab Spring wave of uprisings, triggering an armed rebellion fueled by mass defections from the Syrian army.

The brutal tactics pursued mainly by the regime, which have included the use of chemical weapons, sieges, mass executions and torture against civilians have led to war crimes investigations.

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