Aid delivered to Syria's Ghouta amid fighting

Aid delivered to Syria's Ghouta amid fighting

Aid delivered to Syria's Ghouta amid fighting

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.

The convoy of 13 trucks delivered 2,400 food parcels, which can sustain 12,000 people for one month as well as 3,248 wheat flour bags, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said in a statement.

On another front, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said his forces and allied rebels could enter the northern Syrian town of Afrin "at any moment", a day after they seized another town in the area.

Hamza Hassan, a surgeon working at one of the hospitals in eastern Ghouta, said that staff was overwhelmed with chlorine odour and that he treated 29 children with breathing problems.

Fresh shelling of Eastern Ghouta endangered a vital aid delivery on Friday, almost three weeks into a blistering Syrian regime offensive that has seized more than half of the rebel enclave. "So Ghouta will gain by finishing with these people".

Syrian state television showed a massive plume of dark smoke rising behind houses and trees in Eastern Ghouta, with the sound of blasts in the background.

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Last April, the US struck a military base in central Syria with more than 50 Tomahawk missiles, in retaliation to an alleged chemical attack by Syrian government forces on a rebel-held town in the northwestern province of Idlib.

A clear strategy of the Syrian government's offensive in Eastern Ghouta has been to divide the enclave into isolated sections and so cut off rebel support and supply networks, the BBC's Arab Affairs editor Sebastian Usher says - and now the government appears to have all but achieved that goal.

However, U.N. agencies said most medical supplies had been stripped from the convoy by Syrian government officials and added that the food supplies brought in were insufficient.

Moscow had justified the continued bombardment of the area by saying extremists remained embedded in the towns and were preventing civilians from taking advantage of a designated evacuation corridor to flee the fighting.

Since then they have reportedly taken control of half of the region, in an advance that is thought to have left more than 900 civilians dead.

Early Friday, the air strikes stopped briefly, with the area seeing its calmest night in more than a week, according to the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitoring group. "None of the civilians has been able to leave the enclave over the last 24 hours", Yevtushenko said.

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