Russian, US airstrikes caused mass deaths in Syria, UN says

MIDEAST-CRISIS  SYRIA

Ingy Sedky, the ICRC spokeswoman in Syria says most of the aid from a 46-truck convoy was delivered to the town of Douma in eastern Ghouta on Monday but the mission was cut short before the rest of the supplies could be unloaded.

There was no immediate confirmation of this from the rebels or Syrian government.

On March 5, the Russian Defense Ministry's Center for Syrian reconciliation reported that the al-Nusra terrorist organization had fired mortar shells at the humanitarian convoy that was on its way to the Syrian town of Douma in Eastern Ghouta. The sounds of explosions and jets could be heard. "Mesraba is under heavy attack today", said Khalil Aybour, a member of an opposition council in Ghouta. He estimated that as many as half of the town's 40,000 residents had fled in recent weeks. The Observatory said this advance deeper into the centre of the enclave enabled them to bring the remaining north-south link within firing range.

Officials at the United Nations have renewed their desire for a 30 day cease fire in an effort to evacuate civilians and give aid to those who stay.

Russian Federation and Damascus have accused rebels of preventing civilians from leaving eastern Ghouta during daily ceasefires.Rebels have consistently denied the accusation and say people will not leave because they fear the government.

An aid convoy reached the Damascus suburb for the first time since mid-February.

The Assad regime, backed by Russian Federation, claims that it is only targeting "members of banned terrorist groups who are unprotected by the truce", as Reuters puts it.

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad said on Sunday that the chemical attacks allegations against the Syrian government are part of the Western "dictionary of lies", state news agency SANA reported.

The head of the Britain-based Observatory, Rami Abdel Rahman, said four of the 45 victims were children.

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The UN human rights chief says that the regime is orchestrating an "apocalypse" in Syria.

"The reports could not be independently confirmed", the AP notes, "and Russian Federation used its Security Council veto to freeze the work of a United Nations body investigating such reports earlier this year". A March 7 Kremlin statement about the gathering did not specify the exact date or where the meeting would take place.

"It says the rebels are also free to leave the enclave with their weapons and families unhindered". So far rebels have dismissed it in public.

In attacks since Wednesday morning, ground attacks and airstrike targeted Eastern Ghouta's Douma and Haresta districts and the Sakba, Ayn Terma, Arbin, Hammuriyah, Beit Sawa, Jisrin, Misraba and Kafr Batna regions.

Omar al-Idlibi, an SDF commander, told AFP that "our people in Afrin are our priority. God willing, very, very, very soon... they will return to the state's embrace", he said.

Rebel spokesperson Wael Olwan dismissed the offer on Tuesday, calling it "psychological warfare".

The Damascus suburb has been under rebel control since mid-2013.

Exhausted civil defense workers on Tuesday took advantage of a few hours of calm to dislodge the body of a resident, killed in bombardment several days ago, from a collapsed building. Estimates for the death toll on Monday alone range from 79 to 94.

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