More Civilians Killed in Eastern Ghouta

Russian MoD

Regime forces gained control of villages on the eastern side of the besieged enclave, which it said were controlled by Al-Nusra Front, a former Al-Qaeda affiliate.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a UK-based organization which reports on the war, estimated that between 300 to 400 families had fled, adding that regime bombardment was focused on the town of Mesraba.

The regime's ground and air attacks continued on civilians in the opposition-hold area near capital Damascus despite decisions to implement a ceasefire made separately by Russian Federation and the UN Security Council.

They have reached the centre of the enclave, to the edge of Beit Sawa, according to the Observatory. Damascus and Moscow say they are trying to clear the area of "terrorists".

Four civil defense officials were injured in the attacks.

Mr Hamza Bayraqdar, a spokesman for Jaish al-Islam, said on Twitter that the group's forces had launched "surprise attacks" against regime positions.

Neemat Mohsen, who heads the local women's office in Saqba, another town in Eastern Ghouta, said in some shelters 350 or more people live with no running water and no electricity.

United Nations regional humanitarian coordinator Panos Moumtzis said violence has escalated in eastern Ghouta and mortars fired into Damascus had killed and injured scores of civilians.

The rebels say the humanitarian corridor is part of government efforts to forcibly displace the population, and have called on government forces to implement a full cease-fire adopted by the U.N. Security Council.

The Observatory said some 2,000 civilians had fled regime shelling and clashes in eastern parts of the enclave.

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Abu Mohammad Alaya stands on top of a pile of rubble, still searching for the body for his eldest son more than a week after an air strike destroyed their home in Syria's eastern Ghouta.

At least 76 pro-government fighters and 43 rebels from Jaish al-Islam have also been killed in clashes since 25 February, it says.

Much-needed United Nations aid - including a 45-truck convoy with enough supplies for 90,000 people in 10 locations - was unable to enter the war-torn enclave.

The violence comes on top of critical shortages of food and medicines and a catastrophic collapse of medical care amid the targeting of hospitals and first responders.

The Russian military said no civilians exited via the established corridor on Saturday.

French President Emmanuel Macron and UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres expressed "grave concern" about the humanitarian situation in a telephone conversation late on Saturday.

In a statement released Sunday, the UN's Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said it hoped to deliver aid to parts of the area on Monday.

Macron made a plea to Rouhani about the situation in eastern Ghouta because of the "links" between Iran and the Syrian government, the French statement said.

The UN's regional humanitarian coordinator for Syria, Panos Moumtzis, sounded the alarm on Sunday over the increase in violence.

A commander in the military alliance fighting in support of President Bashar al-Assad said fighting was underway in al-Shayfouniya, without giving further details.

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