Syria: Chemical weapons workshop found in liberated-Ghouta

Syria: Chemical weapons workshop found in liberated-Ghouta

Syria: Chemical weapons workshop found in liberated-Ghouta

"We also warn any nation that is determined to impose its will through chemical attacks and inhuman suffering, most especially the outlaw Syrian regime, the United States remains prepared to act if we must", Haley said.

UNICEF said there were large numbers of civilian casualties reported.

More than 1,100 civilians have been killed and 4,000 wounded since the government stepped up its offensive on the Eastern Ghouta on 18 February.

Eastern Ghouta, a 105-square-km agricultural region consisting of several towns and farmlands, poses the last threat to the capital due to its proximity to government-controlled neighborhoods east of Damascus and ongoing mortar attacks that target residential areas in the capital, pushing people over the edge.

Syrian troops cut off the major Eastern Ghouta towns of Douma and Harasta from the rest of the opposition enclave on Sunday, the Associated Press reported.

Recapturing the enclave would mark one of the most significant victories for President Bashar Assad in the seven-year civil war. The expulsion of the rebels from eastern Ghouta would represent their biggest defeat since they lost their enclave in Aleppo in December 2016.

Activists and locals raised alarm on Monday, saying more than 30,000 people under siege in the town of Harasta in Eastern Ghouta may be facing a "genocide" after the Syrian army split the rebel enclave on Sunday.

This is one of the first recorded civilian evacuations from Eastern Ghouta since Russian Federation and Damascus opened a humanitarian corridor more than a week ago.

There were further talks on Sunday and Monday, after which Jaysh al-Islam announced that "an agreement was reached with the Russian side through the United Nations for a humanitarian medical evacuation of the wounded for treatment outside of Eastern Ghouta". The group said the evacuations would take place in stages, but did not detail the timing or where the people would be taken.

On Monday, Syrian forces pounded two rebel towns in Eastern Ghouta, pressing on with a Russia-backed offensive that has so far allowed government fighters to retake almost 60 percent of the enclave.

"I can say all the factions in the south are in a state of full readiness and alertness with all their equipment and fighting force", said Khaled al-Faraj, the commander of a rebel group operating in Quneitra province.

The Russian Foreign Ministry then said Washington was spreading mass propaganda against Moscow in an attempt to demonize the Syrian government and subsequently topple it, underscoring that the information on the chemical attacks used by the United States was uncorroborated.

Mattis said that he was aware of reports of chlorine attacks on Eastern Ghouta but said that he did not have conclusive evidence that gas had been used. "The cease-fire has failed".

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