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Eastern Ghouta aid convoy flees as Syrian regime continues bombardment Open in fullscreen

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Eastern Ghouta aid convoy flees as Syrian regime continues bombardment

For two weeks Eastern Ghouta has been bombarded by regime forces. [AFP]

Date of publication: 6 March, 2018

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The latest toll released by the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights brings to around 760 the number of civilians killed since the regime assault began.

An international aid convoy to the besieged Syrian opposition enclave of Eastern Ghouta has been forced to cut short its mission due to heavy bombardments by the Syrian regime.

More than nine civilians have been killed so far on Tuesday in regime airstrikes with the UN's refugee agency saying regime shelling had forced it to abandoned plans for delivering aid.

Regime warplanes pounded Eastern Ghouta including the main town of Douma early Tuesday, as well as the towns of Sabqa and Hammuriyeh overnight, the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitor said.

The strikes on Douma reduced homes to piles of rubble on the sides of roads, an AFP correspondent there said.

An reporter from the agency in Hammuriyeh said airstrikes overnight targeted the town, with only a few residents emerging from the safety of their cellars after day broke.

Nine civilians were killed in the town of Jisreen early Tuesday, the Observatory said.

With the latest deaths, 95 civilians have been killed in regime bombardment of the battered enclave since early Monday, it said.

An international aid convoy cut short its mission to Eastern Ghouta after delivering desperately needed aid as the regime pounded the region on Monday.

The UN's refugee agency UNHCR said the convoy was in the town of Douma for nearly nine hours before it cut short its mission.

"We delivered as much as we could amidst shelling," UNHCR's Syria representative Sajjad Malik tweeted. "Civilians are caught in a tragic situation."

Linda Tom, spokesperson for the UN's humanitarian coordination office OCHA in Syria, told AFP fighting and airstrikes had continued during the convoy's deployment, "including on Douma city while the convoy was offloading".

The UN Human Rights Council on Monday ordered investigators to examine the latest violence and condemned "the indiscriminate use of heavy weapons and aerial bombardments against civilians, and the alleged use of chemical weapons in Eastern Ghouta".

Regime troops and allied forces have advanced rapidly across farmland in the east of the enclave in recent days, the Observatory said.

By Monday evening they had retaken 40 percent of the enclave, it added.

Airstrikes, and artillery and rocket fire on the last major rebel-held enclave near the capital Damascus have killed hundreds and devastated residential areas since they began on 18 February.

The latest toll released by the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights brings to around 760 the number of civilians killed since the assault began, including at least 170 children.

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