Aid reaches Syria's Ghouta amid renewed regime attacks

Aid reaches Syria's Ghouta amid renewed regime attacks

Air strikes hit the areas of Jisreen and Harasta after stopping briefly in the early morning, the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitoring group said.

The Syrian government forces on Saturday captured the strategic town of Mesraba and encircled the city of Harasta in Damascus' Eastern Ghouta countryside, according to War Media, the media wing of the Syrian army.

The group, also known as the White Helmets, said two of its volunteers, and 28 others, suffered difficulties breathing following shelling on the town of Hammouriyeh on Monday evening.

Image copyright EPA Image caption The first 13 were said to have been transported out using the Syrian government designated al-Wafidden corridor Who are the rebel groups?

It said the initiative was "based on consultations between Jaish al-Islam and the United Nations, and a number of worldwide actors".

They've only been able to get a fraction of much needed food and medical supplies into the area where an estimated 400,000 people are trapped.

On Friday a United Nations convoy was able to successfully deliver aid to the area, after previous deliveries were halted by shelling.

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and his main ally Russian Federation say the campaign in eastern Ghouta is needed to end rebel shelling of Damascus and the rule of Islamist insurgents over the area's civilians.

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But the group represents only a small portion of the insurgent presence in the enclave, and both Jaish al-Islam and Failaq al-Rahman have said they would not negotiate a similar deal for themselves.

Besieged by government forces since 2013, Ghouta is the last remaining rebel-held area near the capital.

"The regime has cut Ghouta into three parts by cutting the main roads linking them", said the Observatory's chief Rami Abdurrahman. President Bashar al-Assad vowed last week that Syrian forces would continue the campaign until the whole area is retaken.

Pro-government forces have now reportedly taken half the area.

"The Syrian Arab Army soldiers marching from three sides could meet soon", said Rabih Dibi, a reporter with state-run Ikhbariyah TV in his report from Misraba.

Maj. -Gen. Vladimir Zolotukhin, of the Russian center for reconciliation of the warring parties in Syria, said Saturday negotiations were being conducted about the withdrawal of rebel fighters from Syria's besieged East Ghouta.

In January, Turkey began an offensive to oust the Kurdish YPG militia from the Afrin region in northern Syria, near the Turkish border.

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