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Aid convoy enters Eastern Ghouta as thousands flee violence

Members of the Syrian Red Crescent waiting to deliver aid in Ghouta [Getty]

Date of publication: 15 March, 2018

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An aid convoy that will distribute provisions to thousands of Syrian refugee families entered Eastern Ghouta on Thursday.

A joint UN-International Committee of the Red Cross aid convoy entered the besieged Eastern Ghouta on Thursday as thousands of residents fled the area.

The convoy consisted of 25 trucks, and will provide aid to more than 26,000 people. But the IRC cautioned in a tweet that it was "just a little of what these families need".

The convoy is headed for Douma, the largest and most populated town in Eastern Ghouta. 

Previous aid deliveries last week were mired in violence that disrupted its distribution, with shells slamming in the town as the aid workers were inside.

Violence and fighting has continued in Eastern Ghouta despite a 30-day UN ceasefire passed on 24 February.

UN and Western officials have criticised the Syrian regime and Russia for continuing its bombardment of the rebel-held enclave.

At least 1,220 civilians have died since the regime offensive began last month.

On Wednesday, the pro-regime Al-Mayadeen station said regime forces were close to recapturing Hammourieh, one of Eastern Ghouta's towns.

Activists said that air raids and chlorine attacks had forced many residents underground. 

More than 3,000 people also escaped rebel-held Eastern Ghouta to regime-held territory on Thursday, in what the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights called "the largest displacement since the beginning of the assault on Ghouta"

Many residents expect Eastern Ghouta to follow a similar trajectory as Eastern Aleppo, which fell to regime forces in 2016 following airstrikes and a ground offensive.

Syrian regime forces have recaptured more than 60 percent of Eastern Ghouta since launching their offensive. 

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