250 civilians killed by shelling, regime airstrikes in Syria

Damascus [Syria]: At least 250 civilians have been killed by shelling and regime airstrikes in Syria’s Eastern Ghouta region in the last 48 hours, the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) said on Tuesday.

According to the SOHR, the death toll also included 58 children and 42 women. Over 1,200 people were injured in the constant shelling and airstrikes, which rights activists and residents described as being under “constant bombardment.” The monitoring group added that the death toll was likely to increase and was the highest since the alleged chemical attack in the same region in 2013, which activists say it claimed around 1,400 lives, the CNN reported.

“These are the worst days of our lives in Ghouta. We in Ghouta have been getting hit by airstrikes for more than five years and this is not new to us, but we have never seen anything like this escalation,” Eastern Ghouta hospital director and pediatrician Amani Ballour said. Doctors were working round the clock to treat hundreds of injured people, even though medical supplies and facilities were in short supply.

Meanwhile, the Syrian government reported that five civilians were killed and 20 others were injured by rocket and mortar fire launched from Eastern Ghouta on Tuesday, according to SANA. SANA added that the Syrian army responded to the attacks with “precise strikes,” destroying rocket launchers and fortified positions used by the armed groups.

With the Islamic State (IS) losing key territories in Iraq and Syria last year, Russian-backed Syrian forces are making a major push to overrun the country’s remaining rebel strongholds. Earlier, at least 77 people were killed and over 40 were injured in fresh regime attacks in Eastern Ghouta region near Damascus, local civil defence forces said on Monday.

Since December last year, continued regime attacks have claimed more than 500 lives and injured over 2,000 people. Eastern Ghouta, which houses around 400,000 residents, has remained under a crippling regime siege for the last five years, the Anadolu news agency reported. In May last year, Russia, Iran and Turkey signed an agreement to set up de-escalation zones, in order to prevent airstrike-related incidents in some parts of Syria.

The de-escalation zones include- Idlib province, some parts of Latakia province, Hama and Aleppo provinces, Homs, Eastern Ghouta, Daraa and al-Quneitra provinces in southern Syria. Syria has been embroiled in a civil war since 2011. Protesters have been long demanding the resignation of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad over his autocratic rule.

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