Syria: Govt forces capture half of Ghouta enclave

The UN human rights chief accused the Syrian government of orchestrating an

Many civilians have fled from the frontlines into Douma, a town in the enclave.

"It was a miracle that we made it here", he said, speaking of the heavy airstrikes.

Regime forces have been repeatedly accused of using chlorine on Eastern Ghouta in recent weeks, which both the government and Russian Federation have staunchly denied. Eight mortar rounds were fired, nine people were injured.

On Thursday, 24 civilians were killed in air strikes and rocket fire on Eastern Ghouta, the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitor said. They had an estimated population of about 50,000 in December, the official said.

ICRC spokesperson Inji Sedky told China's Xinhua news agency, the convoy was postponed to an unknown date due to the evolving situation in the rebel held enclave of Eastern Ghouta. "And now there is a lack of water and food, so disease is coming on", Henrietta Fore told Reuters in an interview.

Eastern Ghouta's roughly 400,000 residents have lived under government siege since 2013, facing severe shortages of food and medicines even before the latest offensive began. "Have pity on us", said a woman reached in Douma by a voice messaging service, who identified herself as Um Mahmoud. It is in the interests of the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to spread its military control around areas it now holds, to expand its scope of influence in key strategic locations and therefore keep its strongholds secure. The proposal echoes previous agreements under which insurgents, in the face of military defeat, were permitted to withdraw to opposition-held areas along the Turkish border.

The situation keeps deteriorating, escalating, and transforming into a "hell on earth", the high commissioner said, in reference to the recent escalations in east Ghouta, near the Syrian capital.

Russia's defence ministry said on Wednesday some rebels wanted to accept the proposal to evacuate.

South Korea envoys to meet security adviser McMaster during U.S. trip
To prevent this, it is urging the North to take clear and concrete steps toward abandoning its nuclear program. But "if their plan is to buy time, that will not be successful", a top American official has said.

On another front in Syria's complex seven-year war, pro-Turkey rebels seized control of the key northern town of Jandairis from Kurdish fighters.

Egeland said there are intensive diplomatic efforts for a humanitarian pause that would lead to the evacuation of 1,000 priority cases for medical treatment and expressed hope that another convoy would be able to make its way there Friday.

United Nations peace envoy Staffan de Mistura briefed the meeting and offered to help broker a deal with Russian Federation to allow fighters in Eastern Ghouta to leave, a diplomat said, adding that diplomats supported the idea as a way to halt the violence.

The Syrian regime is also accused of carrying out chemical attacks on Eastern Ghouta and elsewhere.

The government firmly denies this.

No civilians were seen leaving the embattled area at the checkpoint set up by the Syrian government, a way station where large portraits of Putin and Syrian President Bashar al-Assad were positioned side by side.

"I'm going to suffocate", two children screamed repeatedly as they were carried down.

The achievement is the latest in a series of successful military operations that have enabled the Syrian army to capture 40 percent of Eastern Ghouta since the military operation started late last month.

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