UN says 400,000 civilians trapped in Syrian enclave

Fighting intensifying in Damascus suburb being targeted by Syrian and Russian jets despite its de-escalation zone status.

    Despite being designated as a so-called de-escalation zone, jet fighters flown by the Syrian government and its Russian allies continue to bomb the besieged Damascus suburb of Eastern Ghouta.

    The UN says fighting is only intensifying, despite a deal between Russia, Iran and Turkey stipulating that there can be no military activity in Eastern Ghouta.

    "This is supposed to be a safe area, but it's not safe. Planes hit all day and all night. Where should we go?" a witness told Al Jazeera.

    On Sunday, about 30 people were killed by the air raids.

    According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR), it was the biggest death toll in a single day in at least three weeks, when pro-government forces escalated their attacks on the area.

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    Eastern Ghouta has been besieged by President Bashar al-Assad's troops since 2013 in an attempt to force the rebel enclave into submission.

    "The regime didn't respect the de-escalation agreement. The Russians said they would provide guarantees, but they didn't," Mounther Fares, spokesman for the Ahrar al-Sham rebel group, said.

    The UN says about 400,000 civilians who remain trapped there are facing a "complete catastrophe" because the government has blocked aid deliveries.

    The humanitarian situation in the besieged area is getting increasingly worse, the UN has warned.

    At least 500 people are in need of immediate medical evacuation, malnutrition is rampant, and babies have died from lack of food.

    "The regime is trying to force the residents of Ghouta to accept being relocated to the north of Syria. But the people here won't accept this, they won't be forcibly displaced," said Hazem Shami, an activist in Eastern Ghouta.

    In April, the government started an offensive on the area. "Since then, the people had to smuggle in irregular aid deliveries," Al Jazeera's Zeina Khodr, reported from Beirut in neighbouring Lebanon, said.

    "In the past two months, supplies reached 20 percent of the 400,000 people trapped in Eastern Ghouta."

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera News


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