Pro-government forces hit Syria's Ghouta with rockets, air raids

By REUTERS
February 21, 2018 10:15
1 minute read.
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BEIRUT - Over a dozen people were injured on Tuesday night in Syria's eastern Ghouta, where one of the heaviest bombardments in seven years of war has hammered a besieged enclave, killing at least 250 people in 48 hours, a war monitor said.

Pro-government forces fired rockets and dropped barrel bombs from helicopters on the towns and villages of the rural district just outside Damascus, where rebels fighting President Bashar al-Assad have their last big redoubt near the capital, it added.

However, the pace of the bombardment slackened somewhat overnight, said the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, after a massive escalation in strikes that began late on Sunday. The enclave is home to 400,000 people.

The United Nations has decried the assault on eastern Ghouta, where hospitals and other civilian infrastructure have been hit, as unacceptable, warning that the bombings may constitute war crimes.

The Syrian government and its ally Russia, which has backed Assad with air power since 2015, say they do not target civilians. They also deny using the inaccurate explosive barrel bombs dropped from helicopters whose use has been condemned by the UN.

Conditions in eastern Ghouta, besieged since 2013, had increasingly alarmed aid agencies even before the latest assault, as shortages of food, medicine and other basic necessities caused suffering and illness.

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