Friday 14 December 2018

Eight killed in fresh Russian-backed air strikes on Syrian rebel area

The Russian-backed bombardment has overwhelmed rescue workers and prompted calls for an immediate ceasefire in order to deliver critical medical care.

Russia is backing the aerial campaign close to Damascus (AP)
Russia is backing the aerial campaign close to Damascus (AP)

By Zeina Karam

New air strikes launched by Russian and Syrian government forces on a rebel-held region east of Damascus have killed at least eight people, opposition activists said.

The strikes are part of an ongoing aerial campaign which has killed dozens of civilians in the besieged area over the past few days.

Around 60 civilians have died so far in air strikes and shelling, overwhelming rescue workers and prompting calls for an immediate ceasefire in order to deliver critical medical care.

The opposition’s civil defence workers, known as the White Helmets, said eight civilians were killed and many more were wounded after warplanes targeted the town of Hamouriyeh, causing a building to collapse.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights also reported the deaths, which it said raised the number of people killed in the area since January 29 to 384, including 94 children.

The Ghouta region east of the capital Damascus, home to nearly 400,000 people trapped by the violence, has been under intense attack since the end of December as the government of President Bashar Assad struggles to bring it under control.

The campaign by the Syrian government and its ally, Russia, has also battered the north-western province of Idlib, the largest area under opposition control in Syria. The Idlib offensive hit hospitals and residential buildings. The situation intensified after militants shot down a Russian Su-25 fighter jet near the town of Saraqeb over the weekend.

Save the Children said the escalation in fighting in the opposition-held enclave of Idlib is placing thousands of youngsters in extreme danger.

It said more than 30 schools supported by Save the Children and its partners in the area have had to close temporarily due to security fears.

Hundreds of families, many of whom have already been displaced and left living in tents, have come under increasing fire and have been left with nowhere left to turn, it added.

A UN-mandated investigator said his team is probing reports that bombs allegedly containing weaponised chlorine have been used on two recent occasions in Syria.

The Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons said its fact-finding mission is “investigating all credible allegations” and reporting its findings to the organisation’s member states.

Press Association

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