Syrian regime's blitz of Eastern Ghouta

Syrian regime's blitz of Eastern Ghouta

Strikes began again on the besieged opposition enclave on Friday with at least 40 civilians killed in a day of shelling and air strikes on Douma.

"I spoke to one of the doctors inside the town, who told me. they received a number of wounded with symptoms from chlorine gas", said SAMS advocacy director Mohammad Katoub, who is based in Turkey. Many more people had stayed, fearing what might follow departure from home towns they had not abandoned through seven years of war.On Friday, the buses stopped.Speaking before the airstrikes, the medical worker said he had chose to stay because his work was not finished.

Then more bombing raids slammed into the town on Saturday, the Britain-based Observatory and a civil defence worker said.

"The bombing has not stopped".

Six civilians were also killed and dozens more wounded as Douma rebels shelled the capital Damascus on Saturday, Syrian state media said.

Bashar al-Assad has thrown into battle against the rebels elite unit, the Republican guard. Other rebel groups agreed to relocate to the north after a Russia-backed government offensive in February and March that killed hundreds of people and caused catastrophic destruction. It sliced the area into three isolated pockets each held by different rebel factions.

The violence came after almost two weeks of calm in the last rebel-held town in the area known as eastern Ghouta after the Russians have agreed with the Army of Islam to evacuate the area toward rebel-held regions north of the country.

The White Helmets, a group of rescuers operating in opposition-held areas in Syria, said on Saturday that more than 50 air raids had struck the town, which sits just 15km east of the capital, Damascus, over the past 24 hours.

Tens of thousands also fled into government-controlled territory through safe passages opened by Russian Federation and Syrian troops.

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Moscow had announced a deal with Jaish al-Islam, the Islamist faction that holds the town, but hardliners within the group were reportedly refusing to leave their positions.

All of a sudden, with no warning, the shelling starts.

Jaish al-Islam's political official called for talks to spare civilian bloodshed.

Top Jaish al-Islam political figure Mohammad Alloush yesterday blamed worldwide supporters of Syria's government for hamstringing the talks.

It remains unclear exactly why the talks between Moscow and Jaish al-Islam have faltered.

Leading Jaish al-Islam commander Mohammed Alloush told AFP that the Syrian regime were to blame for the collapse of the talks.

Others have blamed internal rebel divisions over the withdrawal process.

But Jaish al-Islam spokesman Hamza Bayraqdar in a statement late Friday denied that the group had targeted any Damascus neighbourhood.

"The talks were going well".

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