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Published: Sat, March 10, 2018
Culture | By Antonia Gonzales

Aid convoys leave Eastern Ghouta after delivering all shipment

Aid convoys leave Eastern Ghouta after delivering all shipment

The convoy comprised 13 trucks with food parcels that could not be delivered on Monday because of heavy fighting, the ICRC said earlier in a tweet.

The International Committee of the Red Cross said the aid convoy passed through front lines and was heading to the enclave's biggest town, Douma.

The trucks included 2,400 food parcels and 3,240 wheat flour bags.

"There is no justification for allowing people to die because they can not get life-saving care", the ICRC said in a statement.

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

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

On Thursday, a United Nations commission of inquiry released a report accusing the Assad regime of committing war crimes in Eastern Ghouta, including the use of chemical weapons against civilians, causing mass starvation and preventing medical evacuations.

Almost 950 civilians have been killed since Russia-backed government forces launched a blistering assault on the last opposition bastion near Damascus on February 18.

The renewed artillery fire came as representatives of Damascus and businessmen pressed negotiations on a solution that would allow civilians or fighters to leave the enclave, the Observatory said.

Humanitarian workers said shelling broke out as they delivered aid on Monday and they had to leave before completing the delivery.

Rami Abdurrahman, who heads the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, said Douma was shelled before the convoy went in.

The government and its Russian backers, determined to wrest eastern Ghouta from rebel control after seven years of war, recently intensified the shelling and bombardment to clear the way for its troops to advance on the ground.

Syrian state news agency SANA said dozens of civilians were expected to leave Eastern Ghouta on Friday.

A man stands on the rubble of a damaged building at the besieged town of Douma, Eastern Ghouta, Damascus, Syria March 5, 2018.

Damascus and its main ally Moscow have both said the assault is needed to stop rebel shelling of the nearby capital Damascus and end the rule of Islamist insurgents over civilians in eastern Ghouta.

The UN estimates that some 400,000 people are trapped in the towns and villages of east Ghouta and Secretary-General António Guterres, who has been calling for the ongoing siege to be lifted, has described the conditions there as "hell on earth".

A United Nations official who entered eastern Ghouta earlier this week said civilians stuck inside the enclave - mostly women and children - would like to leave have nowhere to go and feel they can't exit safely from the designated checkpoints.

The two allies accuse the Syrian rebels of shooting at civilians to prevent them from fleeing the fighting into government areas. The lorries are carrying food for about 12,000 people in the city of Douma. Nevertheless, he said nothing when asked if talks had been held with militants over evacuation of civilians from Eastern Ghouta.

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