Russia: Thousands more fleeing eastern Ghouta via corridor

Erika Holt
March 17, 2018

Local civilians are fleeing as best they can, but those trapped in combat situations are in considerable risk.

The incendiaries are causing serious burns to a lot of civilians, but the cluster munitions are a long-term danger. "We do not agree (with them)", said presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov in response to a USA briefing saying that Russian Federation was responsible for the attacks. Seven years of conflict in Syria have left more than 350,000 people dead, according to an updated overall death toll released today by the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

The assault has sparked an exodus with more than 40,000 civilians pouring into surrounding government-held areas over the past 48 hours.

They reached a checkpoint in Adra district, where ambulances and large green buses waited to take them to temporary shelters. "The UN has not observed the evacuations, but is visiting collective shelters where some of the evacuees are arriving", a UN spokesman said.

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The people left Hammouriyeh, which government forces advanced into on Thursday, and other towns nearby, said Rami Abdulrahman, director of the UK-based monitor. The de-escalation zones include - Idlib province, some parts of Latakia province, Hama and Aleppo provinces, Homs, Eastern Ghouta, Daraa and al-Quneitra provinces in southern Syria.

The UN is trying to determine the numbers fleeing Eastern Ghouta, but has been unable to observe the evacuations. Damascus and its key ally Moscow say they strike only armed militants and seek to stop insurgent mortar fire that killed dozens in the capital. They have accused the factions of preventing residents from leaving, which the fighters deny.

Further north, Turkish-led forces are preparing to attack the city of Afrin, where the United Nations says 48,000 people have been displaced. "And the displaced outside Afrin are out in the open without refuge or food". The Syrian regime has chosen to support the YPG against the Turkish campaign. Under cover of allied Russian air power, Syrian government forces have been on a crushing offencive for three weeks on eastern Ghouta.

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