Reports: New Syrian-Russian offensive kills more than 400 civilians in Eastern Ghouta

by WorldTribune Staff, February 23, 2018

More than 400 civilians have been killed in a five-day assault by Syrian government and Russian forces on a rebel-held enclave that had last year been designated as a “de-escalation zone,” reports said.

The attacks in Eastern Ghouta killed 46 people on Feb. 22, AFP reported.

A man carries an injured child as he walks on rubble of damaged buildings in the besieged town of Hamouriyeh, Eastern Ghouta on Feb. 21. / Reuters

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said that “five days of air strikes and intense artillery fire by the regime and its Russian ally have killed 403 civilians, including 95 children.”

Russia, Turkey and Iran in 2017 had designated Eastern Ghouta as a “de-escalation zone,” meaning civilians could reside there without being targeted by any party in Syria’s war.

Doctors Without Borders said 13 of the facilities it supports in Eastern Ghouta were damaged or destroyed in airstrikes this week.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said during a press conference in Belgrade that anti-Assad regime fighters in Eastern Ghouta had rejected an evacuation deal.

“A few days ago, our military in Syria suggested to the fighters that they withdraw peacefully from Eastern Ghouta, like the evacuation of fighters and their families that was organized in East Aleppo,” he said, according to AFP.

U.S. Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley on Feb. 21 said “It’s time to take immediate action in the hopes of saving the lives of the men, women, and children who are under attack by the barbaric Assad regime. It is simply preposterous to claim that these attacks on civilians have anything to do with fighting terrorism.”

Chancellor Angela Merkel told German parliament that Iran and Russia had “a particular responsibility” as they are both supporting Syria’s government forces which she said are “not fighting against terrorists, but against its own people.”

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov denied that Russia has any responsibility for the situation in Eastern Ghouta, saying, “Those who support the terrorists are responsible.”

Meanwhile, Russian news reports said Moscow has sent more warplanes to Syria, including its latest Su-57 fighter jets.

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