Thousands flee Syria’s Eastern Ghouta as Army advances

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Damascus, March 15 (IANS) Thousands of civilians fled a town in the besieged rebel-held Eastern Ghouta region outside the Syrian capital as government forces advanced.

State television on Thursday showed pictures of men, women and children carrying bags leaving the town of Hamouria, which came under intense bombardment.

London-based war monitor group Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) said 12,500 civilians left the areas of Failaq al-Rahman rebels through Hamouriyeh, marking the largest wave of evacuation from the enclave since the military stepped up an offensive to retake it in February, the BBC reported.

At the same time, a new humanitarian convoy of 25 trucks carrying food aid for 26,000 people entered the town of Douma, the largest population centre in Eastern Ghouta, the Red Cross said.

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The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said the aid was just a fraction of what was needed in the Eastern Ghouta, where some 390,000 people were facing severe shortages of food and medical supplies.

The aid convoy was sent in cooperation with the Syrian Arab Red Crescent and the UN. It was the third aid convoy to enter Douma since the military operations in Eastern Ghouta started late last month.

The developments came as Syria’s civil war, which ICRC president Peter Maurer said had “extracted an immensely painful human toll”, entered its eighth year.

The conflict has left more than 350,000 people dead, 1.5 million others with permanent disabilities, and displaced 11 million both inside Syria and abroad.

More than 1,100 people have been killed since the government and its allies intensified their bombardment of the Eastern Ghouta on 18 February.

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Meanwhile, dozens of airstrikes took place in the southern part of Eastern Ghouta on Thursday, said SOHR.

At least three people were killed and other 83 wounded in attacks launched by unidentified warplanes on Kafr Batna, Ain Tarma, Zamalka, Haza, Jersrin and Hamouriyah, the war monitor group said.

–IANS

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