Published: Sat, March 17, 2018
Worldwide | By Victor Meyer

Syrian army takes town in Ghouta from insurgents - Hezbollah

Syrian army takes town in Ghouta from insurgents - Hezbollah

At least 1,300 civilians have been killed under shelling and airstrikes.

Earlier on Friday, the three foreign ministers released a joint statement, which highlighted the continuity of joint efforts to decrease violence on the ground in Syria. Gen. Ali Mayhoub said military operations were "swift and decisive". However, they're viewed by the Turks as a terrorist group.

Shamdasani noted that parties to the conflict must allow civilians to leave and take precautions to avoid loss of civilian lives.

The Russian military said that 4,127 people had left Eastern Ghouta on Friday, the TASS news agency reported, citing a senior military official.

The United Nations has warned of a malnutrition crisis in eastern Ghouta, which human rights groups have blamed on the government's strangling blockade.

He said the government and Syrian Red Crescent were coordinating to facilitate the safe transport of people from eastern Ghouta "to temporary shelters that are equipped with all the necessary equipment".

Ministers from Russia, Turkey and Iran also underscored the need for a political solution in a joint statement after a meeting in Astana, Kazakhstan, on Friday and urged worldwide support for de Mistura's efforts to form a constitutional committee.

"Until now, we have established control in three-fourths of the Afrin region", he said.

In addition to targeting the Syrian regime in his remarks, the national security advisor also called out Russian Federation and Iran for assisting Syrian President Bashar al-Assad for strikes on civilians, using chemical weapons, not complying with ceasefires, and not allowing aid reach civilians. Government forces also captured the nearby town of Jisreen, it said.

Backed by Russian Federation and Iran, regime forces have thrust deep into Eastern Ghouta, splintering the area into three separate enclaves. Tens of thousands of civilians are believed to still be inside.

According to SOHR, one of the major rebel groups, Faylaq al Rahman withdrew from Hamoriya town of Eastern Ghouta as the Syrian military moved in.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the town of Kafr Batna was hit with cluster munitions, napalm-like incendiary weapons, as well as conventional explosives.

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Regime forces are advancing on towns inside the rebel-held enclave, prompting a massive exodus of civilians.

President Nursultan Nazarbayev on Friday said the Astana process brings hope to ending the war and bloodshed in Syria. It says the streets are strewn with body parts and that it expects the death toll to rise.

On Jan. 20, the Turkish Armed Forces, together with the Free Syrian Army, launched the Operation Olive Branch in Afrin, Syria.

The media office for the Syrian Democratic Forces, a Kurdish-led and US-backed force that operates in the Kurdish autonomous region in the north, said at least 30 were wounded in Friday's attacks.

The Observatory put the death toll at 18.

Hundreds of civilians were seen leaving the town to neighboring villages on Thursday looking for relief.

Earlier on Friday, Turkish aircraft dropped leaflets in Arabic and Kurdish on Afrin, asking residents to stay away from "terrorist positions" - a reference to the Syrian Kurdish fighters - and to not let themselves be used as "human shields".

Pro-Ankara forces were now on the verge of besieging Afrin, and terrified civilians have poured out of the city.

Turkish-led forces have almost fully encircled the city of Afrin, with only one road left open for civilians to flee to areas controlled by the Syrian regime or the YPG. "A future filled with calm and peace awaits you in Afrin", it said.

The civil war in Eastern Ghouta started in the year 2012, however, the government forces intensified attacks against the rebels recently causing severe damages to the civilians as well.

Russia's Defence Ministry said nearly 5,000 civilians had been evacuated on Friday, after more than 10,000 left the day before. On Thursday, men, women and children emerged from Hamouria and nearby opposition towns, carrying mats and other possessions that sometimes poked out of suitcases.

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