Shelling puts aid delivery in Syria's Ghouta at risk

Danny Woods
March 10, 2018

Although one aid convoy entered earlier in the week, the medical supplies were confiscated by the regime and the remaining supplies and food were able to be delivered properly due to the ongoing fighting in the area.

The International Committee of the Red Cross said the aid convoy passed through front lines and was heading to the enclave's biggest town, Douma.

"There is no justification for allowing people to die because they can not get life-saving care", the ICRC said in a statement.

"The UN calls for a cessation of hostilities in the area and for calm throughout Syria so that aid can be safely delivered to people in need", Zaatari said.

Three days later, Russian Federation announced its own ceasefire initiative calling for daily, five-hour "humanitarian pauses" in Eastern Ghouta.

Syrian military forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad have continued their offensive against rebel forces in eastern Ghouta.

On Thursday, a United Nations commission of inquiry released a report accusing the Assad regime of committing war crimes in Eastern Ghouta, including the use of chemical weapons against civilians, causing mass starvation and preventing medical evacuations.

MSF said in the two weeks between 18 February to the evening of 3 March, medical data from 10 facilities the charity supports shows 4,829 people were wounded and 1,005 killed.

State-run Syrian TV on Friday reported that "dozens of civilians" would likely get out of Eastern Ghouta, in addition to 13 gunmen who had turned themselves in, via the Wafideen safe corridor designated by the government.

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But UN human rights chief Zeid Ra'ad al-Hussein has said, in comments criticized by Syria's government, that the assault was "legally, and morally, unsustainable".

The largest rebel group in eastern suburbs of the capital Damascus says they have agreed with a United Nations team that entered the besieged area to evacuate al-Qaida-linked fighters from the district.

The rebels trapped in eastern Ghouta have accused the Syrian government of "scorched earth" tactics.

The terror of the bombardment and the increasingly unbearable living conditions may push people to courageous the fighting and flee, according to one resident of Douma.

In many cases, rebel enclaves have surrendered to the government in deals that allowed insurgents and their families, along with any other civilians who did not wish to stay under Assad's rule, to depart for other opposition areas. Once the relief workers arrived, Syrian government forces shelled the outskirts of the town, he said.

On Monday, a convoy of 46 trucks delivered some provisions to Douma but was forced to turn back.

In a statement Friday, The Army of Islam said that the first batch of fighters to be evacuated is now detained in the group's prisons in eastern Ghouta.

The Observatory and the opposition's Syrian Civil Defense, also known as the White Helmets, reported that airstrikes and shelling resumed late Friday afternoon on eastern Ghouta.

There was no confirmation by any of the rebel groups based in eastern Ghouta of negotiations to leave eastern Ghouta.

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