Aid reaches Syria's Ghouta amid renewed regime attacks

United Nations aid convoy enters Eastern Ghouta

The presence of H.T.S. has been a chief justification cited by the Syrian government and its most powerful ally, Russia, for the scorched-earth bombing campaign they are carrying out in Eastern Ghouta.

"If I thought about leaving Ghouta I would worry about the regime because there are no guarantees: and, second, I would worry about Jaish al-Islam, because they won't let us leave", said one activist in Douma.

The Syrian army has advanced into the area between the two large towns of Harasta and Douma, it added. "So Ghouta will gain by finishing with these people".

The ferocious three-week assault on the last major rebel stronghold near Damascus has captured about half its area and killed 960 people, according to the Observatory. It is hard for aid convoys to reach eastern Ghouta and the global community is failing to intervene.

The report from the UK-based human rights group, which said both Douma and the smaller nearby town of Harasta were surrounded and cut off, was disputed by locals, but such an outcome seems inevitable in any event as the regime presses its advantage, backed by both Syrian and Russian airstrikes.

Shelling and air strikes slammed into Douma on Saturday, trapping residents inside their basements for hours, AFP's correspondents in the town said.

An aid convoy that failed to deliver humanitarian supplies to Syria's besieged eastern Ghouta last week due to violence delivered "urgently needed" aid on Friday despite fighting, which took place extremely close to the convoy, the Red Cross said.

Food aid convoy enters Syria's eastern Ghouta as assault pauses
Delegation from Syria rebel enclave mulls evacuation deal

The trucks had been stuck at the Wafideen crossing the entire week, waiting to enter to deliver the remaining food parcels and flour bags.

Rebels deny this and say the area's inhabitants have not crossed into government territory because they fear persecution.

Jaish al-Islam and Faylaq al-Rahman, two Islamist rebel groups, control most of the opposition-held areas of eastern Ghouta.

Damascus and Moscow accuse the insurgents of shooting at civilians to prevent them fleeing the fighting into government areas.

Such evacuation deals have been repeatedly agreed in Syria's seven-year war, most notably in the second city of Aleppo in late 2016. HTS was excluded from a ceasefire agreed at the United Nations that has yet to come into effect.

Turkey-led rebels have been pressing an assault on the Kurdish enclave of Afrin since January 20.

More news: Malfunction Leads to Loss of Frozen Eggs, Embryos

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