Fresh raids pound Syria’s Ghouta after talks falter

- Agence France-Presse, BEIRUT

Apr 8, 2018-

Deadly bombardments pounded the last opposition holdout in Syria’s Eastern Ghouta on Saturday, after regime troops resumed a military blitz to pressure rebels to withdraw.

Backed up by Russia’s firepower, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has ousted his armed opponents from nearly all of Ghouta, their last stronghold on the edge of the capital.

The regime has used a combination of a fierce military onslaught and two negotiated withdrawals to empty out 95 percent of the enclave, but rebels are still entrenched in its largest town of Douma.

As Moscow pursued talks with Jaish al-Islam, the Islamist faction that holds Douma, bombing subsided and military operations appeared to be on hold for around ten days. 

But the negotiations crumbled this week and air strikes resumed on Friday, killing 40 civilians according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.Another eight civilians were killed on Saturday as more bombing raids slammed into the town, the Britain-based Observatory said.

It could not confirm whether the strikes were carried out by Syrian government warplanes or those of its ally, Russia. Firas al-Doumi, a rescue worker inside the battered town, told AFP military planes and helicopters were circling overhead.

“The bombing has not stopped. We can’t even count all the wounded,” said Mohammed, a young doctor inside Douma. “There are some wounded who we couldn’t operate on in time, and they died,” he told AFP. Six civilians were also killed and dozens more wounded as Douma rebels shelled the capital Damascus on Saturday, Syrian state media said.Assad is keen to recapture Ghouta to eliminate the opposition from the outskirts of Damascus and end years of rocket fire on the capital.

Published: 08-04-2018 11:07

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