Saturday, 18 August, 2018

Syrian warplanes kill 76, injure 140 in eastern Ghouta, monitor says

AFP_Z46OS Syrian reacts following an airstrike in the rebel-held enclave of Arbin in eastern Ghouta near Damascus on Thursday
Ellis Copeland | 12 February, 2018, 09:50

Eastern Ghouta and Idlib, a northern province where violence also flared this week, are both so-called de-escalation zones agreed past year in a bid to pave the way for an end to the conflict. "These attacks must end now", State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said. "These sieges involve the worldwide crimes of indiscriminate bombardment and deliberate starvation of the civilian population", said Paulo Pinheiro, the chair of the commission. In a news release, the United Nations human rights wing noted that numerous rockets and mortars continue to be fired from opposition-held areas into populated areas of Government-held capital Damascus and surrounding suburbs, with at least seven civilians reported killed and 18 others injured in various locations between 6 and 9 February.

An AFP correspondent there said the strikes hit near a school, a market and a mosque, leaving vegetable stalls overturned and damaged. It said the dead includes a medic and at least three children and eight women.

"Now they are saying that they will keep their presence till they make sure a steady process of a political settlement in Syria starts, which will result in regime change", the minister said during a conference in Sochi, stressing that the United States has "plans of virtual division of Syria".

Western powers have expressed alarm over the government's campaign against Eastern Ghouta, where 400,000 people have been besieged since 2013, facing severe food and medicine shortages.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which relies on a network of activists on the ground, said it has documented at least 36 civilians killed so far, including 17 in one town, Jisreen. "Come on, get out", the Turkish leader said Wednesday, taking direct aim at American military support for Syrian Kurdish paramilitary forces Ankara claims are directly linked to Kurdish terrorist organizations.

The U.N. says more than 270,000 people have been displaced in Idlib because of the government onslaught since December 15.

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Macron's office said he pushed for more robust peace talks - notably after a Russia-sponsored effort last month was boycotted by the Syrian opposition.

It accused the United States of trying to set up permanent bases in Syria under the cover of fighting terrorism.

"The Syrian government renews its call to dissolve this illegitimate coalition", it said.

The statement didn't indicate who Macron thinks is responsible, but Macron said France is determined to hold anyone who uses chemical weapons accountable.

Turkey continued its operations Sunday, targeting YPG areas with air and artillery strikes.

Aid workers there say several hospitals have been bombed, some a couple of times in a largely successful effort to put them out of service and deter civilians from using them. She says the goal is to allow humanitarian aid and medical care to flow to more than 700 civilians in eastern Ghouta.

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