United Nations warns of 'apocalypse' in Syria

Elias Hubbard
March 8, 2018

In a race against time for Syrian civilians besieged in Damascus' eastern suburbs of Ghouta, a 46-truck convoy organized by the United Nations and key aid agencies waited Monday at a crossing point to enter the rebel-held enclave.

Monday's announcement comes a day after troops recaptured control over the town of Nashabiyah and a number of villages and farms in eastern Ghouta in the largest advances since the government's wide-scale operation began last month. Around 400,000 people are believed to be trapped in eastern Ghouta. "God willing, very, very, very soon... they will return to the state's embrace", the colonel said in a broadcast near the town of Mesraba.

At least 800 civilians have been killed since the offensive started February 18, according to the Syrian Observatory of Human Rights monitoring group.

Airstrikes continued to hit the remaining rebel-controlled parts of Ghouta on Thursday.

The Security Council special session was called by France and the United Kingdom in an effort to persuade Syria and Russian Federation to comply with the resolution.

At least 800 civilians have been killed since February 18, according to the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

Backed by Russian Federation, the council unanimously adopted on February 24 a resolution demanding the 30-day cessation of hostilities to allow deliveries of humanitarian aid and evacuations of the sick and wounded.

Britain's The Independent reported regime forces had been redeployed to Ghouta from other areas of Syria.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's spokesman said Turkey wants the United States to "step in and prevent" the redeployment.

Turkey sent troops into the Afrin enclave on January 20 to drive out Syrian Kurdish fighters it considers to be terrorists. It later said a general was among those killed, and Russian media identified him as Maj.

The An-26 twin-engine turboprop crashed Tuesday while preparing to land at the Hemeimeem air base in Syria, killing all 33 passengers and six crew on board, the Defence Ministry said.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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