Saturday 22 September 2018

Truce begins so civilians can flee heavily bombarded enclave of east Ghouta

Damaged cars and buildings are seen in the besieged town of Douma, Eastern Ghouta, Damascus, Syria February 25, 2018. REUTERS/Bassam Khabieh
Damaged cars and buildings are seen in the besieged town of Douma, Eastern Ghouta, Damascus, Syria February 25, 2018. REUTERS/Bassam Khabieh
Independent.ie Newsdesk

Independent.ie Newsdesk

A "humanitarian pause" has gone into effect in Syria to allow civilians to leave the rebel-held enclave of eastern Ghouta.

But there were no immediate signs of any corridors set up for people to use during the Russia-ordered move.

Rami Aburrahman of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said that little violence was reported on Tuesday in the enclave just east of Damascus.

Mr Aburrahman said only a few artillery shells hit Douma, one of its suburbs.

Civilians caught in the violence have mocked Russian President Vladimir Putin's order of a five-hour open corridor.

Ingy Sedky of the international Red Cross said for a humanitarian corridor to work, it needed to be well planned and implemented with the consent of all parties in the conflict.

The enclave's residents fear they could face harassment and possibly arrest if they go into government areas.

It has been under intense attack by the Syrian government , and more than 500 people have been killed since last week.

At least 34 people were killed on Monday by air strikes and shelling, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, and the UN estimates nearly 400,000 people live in dire conditions in eastern Ghouta.

The state-run Al-Ikhbariya TV broadcast footage from a crossing point manned by the Syrian military between the enclave and Damascus.

It said preparations were under way to allow civilians to leave, including medical cars.

The Wafideen crossing point is near Douma, one of the largest towns in eastern Ghouta, and only a few miles from Damascus.

TV showed small buses waiting at a parking area but there were no signs of anyone coming out of the enclave.

Reuters

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