Death toll tops 1000 in assault on Syria's Ghouta: Monitor

Death toll tops 1000 in assault on Syria's Ghouta: Monitor

Death toll tops 1000 in assault on Syria's Ghouta: Monitor

The group says the decision was made in consultation with a delegation that entered with a United Nations aid convoy.

Forces loyal to the Syrian government have now reportedly taken half of the area - the last rebel-held enclave close to Damascus.

The Syrian army was advancing near Mesraba and Mudeira, two small towns which represent the last link between the northern and southern halves of the enclave, which is located near to the Syrian capital, Damascus.

The United Nations estimates that some 400,000 people are trapped in the enclave.

The Assad regime and its allies on Friday divided Syria's Eastern Ghouta district in two after carving a kilometer-long corridor - from Misraba to Haresta - through the district, an Anadolu Agency correspondent has reported.

State TV showed 13 bearded men, who it said had earlier handed themselves over to authorities, boarding a bus.

A US official claimed more than 100 fighters aligned with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad died when coalition and local coalition-backed forces thwarted a large attack overnight on February 7.

Apart from Islamist groups such as Jaish al-Islam, jihadists from Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), who are mostly linked to Al-Qaeda, are also deployed there. They encompass multiple factions, including jihadists, and in-fighting between them has led to past losses of ground to the Syrian government.

It said the initiative was "based on consultations between Jaish al-Islam and the United Nations, and a number of global actors". The latter has in the past fought alongside HTS.

Insurgent groups in eastern Ghouta deny this, saying people have not left for fear of government persecution, but a Reuters witness on Friday saw gunfire and mortar fire from inside rebel territory near one of the crossing points.

The attempt followed what opposition activists and the Observatory said was one of the quietest nights in eastern Ghouta since Syrian government forces escalated their assault on the rebellious region February 18.

Three days later, Russian Federation announced its own ceasefire initiative calling for daily, five-hour "humanitarian pauses" in eastern Ghouta.

During the February attack pro-regime forces using tanks and artillery fired on a Syrian Democratic Forces headquarters where U.S. Special Operations Forces were present.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a war monitoring group in Britain, says 915 civilians have died in the last 18 days, including 91 on Wednesday. Numerous victims are children.

"Aid workers should not have to risk their lives to deliver assistance".

Turkey-led rebels have been pressing an assault on the Kurdish enclave of Afrin since January 20. They have already taken control of the nearby town of Jinderes, a few kilometres from Afrin, Turkish reports say.

Media captionAfrin: What is going on in Syria's other battle?

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