Syrian forces attacking eastern Ghouta 'have surrounded rebels in Douma'

Syrian forces attacking eastern Ghouta 'have surrounded rebels in Douma'

Eastern Ghouta's 400,000 inhabitants have lived under government siege since 2013 and the enclave - more than half of which has over the past three weeks been retaken by regime forces - is home to a myriad of armed groups.

But the group represents only a small portion of the insurgent presence in the enclave, and both Jaish al-Islam and Failaq al-Rahman have said they are not negotiating a similar deal for themselves.

The cease-fire endorsed more than a week ago by the United Nations Security Council - but not yet implemented - does not cover H.T.S., a coalition of rebel forces led by the Nusra Front, a group that was formed as Al Qaeda's Syria affiliate and is listed internationally as a terrorist group.

Russia, a main backer of President Bashar Assad, had offered a safe passage to opposition fighters who surrender in eastern Ghouta.

Almost 400,000 people have been trapped in Eastern Ghouta since 2013 when insurgents first took over control and the government began its offensive to oust the rebels.

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

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Last April, the USA struck a military base in central Syria with more than 50 Tomahawk missiles, in retaliation to an alleged chemical attack by Syrian government forces on a rebel-held town in the northwestern province of Idlib.

Syria's conflict erupted with protests against Assad but has since developed into a full-blown war drawing in world powers. The channel has been reporting since last week that rebels have prevented civilians from leaving.

But soon after the convoy of 13 trucks carrying food parcels crossed into Eastern Ghouta, the Observatory and a witness in Douma said air strikes had resumed.

Amid a lull in Damascus' embattled rebel-held suburbs, a small team of relief workers entered the eastern Ghouta area yesterday to deliver remaining aid left over from a previous mission earlier in the week, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said.

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

In the report, Russian troops were seen aboard the bus.

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