Syrian state media says rebels shell Ghouta crossing point

Monday, 12 Mar, 2018

More than a dozen trucks carried supplies for more than 10,000 people in the Eastern Ghouta region, the Delegation of the International Committee of the Red Cross said Friday.

"MSF urgently repeats its call for an immediate ceasefire to be implemented and for medical supplies to be allowed into the besieged area to treat the sick and wounded", CNN quoted the organisation as saying. "We have a 12 percent severe acute malnutrition in east Ghouta for under five".

Holed up inside Eastern Ghouta, foreign-backed militants have been launching indiscriminate mortar and rocket attacks on the Syrian capital Damascus, which have resulted in many civilian deaths.

More than 930 civilians have been killed in the almost 3-week assault on the last rebel enclave outside the capital, where dozens suffered overnight from a suspected chlorine attack. The area has already been under government siege fore months increasing the suffering of residents.

Turkey sent troops into the Afrin enclave on January 20 to drive out Syrian Kurdish fighters it considers to be terrorists.

A negotiator from the town said a "civilian delegation" was "to negotiate with the regime towards a solution to end the fighting" in the area.

Tens of thousands of people have fled further into the enclave in the face of the warfare, a United Nations official said on Thursday, and residents of Douma said shelters were crowded with the new arrivals.

The government forces advanced from the east and were only about a mile away from forces on the western side of eastern Ghouta.

A top United Nations aid official is appealing to Russian Federation and the Syrian government and those who have influence over armed opposition groups for a cessation of hostilities in eastern Ghouta.

"I'm very anxious for a repeat of very numerous bad things we saw in the final days of the battle of Aleppo but to some extent this is worse", he told The Associated Press in an interview from Oslo.

SANA earlier said dozens of civilians were expected to leave on Friday through the Wafideen checkpoint, an agreed exit point.

United Nations aid workers have said that trauma treatment kits and surgical supplies are often removed from convoys by Syrian forces because they may be used to treat wounded rebels, Reuters reported.

On another front in Syria's complex 7-year war, pro-Turkey rebels seized control of the key northern town of Jandairis from Kurdish fighters.

A spokesman for Arab militias within the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces said Tuesday that as many as 1,700 fighters would be redeployed.

A convoy of relief trucks crossed front lines into the rebel-held Damascus suburb of eastern Ghouta on Friday and unloaded all its food to the trapped population, despite fighting that the Red Cross said had come "extremely close". "No confirmation yet on when it will take place".

The charity said 15 of the 20 medical facilities it supports in Eastern Ghouta have been hit by air strikes or shelling. A rare humanitarian aid convoy made it to eastern Ghouta on Monday but was forced to cut short its mission amid severe bombardment by the government.