Wednesday 20 November 2019

Russia extends pause in Syrian rebel enclave outside Damascus

The Defence Ministry said the halt in fighting is focused on the town of Douma.

The Syrian Red Crescent treats fleeing residents (Sana/AP)
The Syrian Red Crescent treats fleeing residents (Sana/AP)

By Associated Press Reporters

The Russian military says it has extended a “humanitarian pause” in fighting for two days in a part of Syria’s embattled eastern Ghouta enclave, just outside of Damascus.

The Russian Defence Ministry said the halt on Thursday and Friday is focused on the town of Douma.

It claims the pause has allowed growing numbers of civilians to reach safety.

Major General Yuri Yevtushenko was quoted by the Interfax news agency as saying 131 people left the area through the humanitarian corridor on Wednesday.

Major General Vladimir Zolotukhin said 100 people are expected to be evacuated on Thursday.

Syrian government soldiers during the battle against rebels in eastern Ghouta (Sana/AP)

Moscow ordered the daily humanitarian pauses late last month, but few civilians have left.

Activists said continued government shelling and air strikes killed at least 20 civilians on Wednesday in eastern Ghouta.

Monitoring groups added that government and Russian forces were still blanketing the Ghouta region with air strikes and rocket fire.

The assaults come as Syria marked the seventh anniversary of the popular uprising that sparked the country’s vicious civil war.

The Syrian Civil Defence, also known as the White Helmets, said its first responders are not able to reach the wounded in towns in rebel-held eastern Ghouta because of the intensity of the assault.

It said one of its rescue workers was killed in an air strike in Hazeh on Thursday.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said a column of civilians trying to flee government advances in Hamouria were targeted with shelling early in the day that wounded several people.

It said 26 people were killed in Hamouria on Wednesday.

PA Media

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