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Regime air strikes kill dozens more civilians in eastern Ghouta

Regime air strikes kill dozens more civilians in eastern Ghouta

At least 35 people were killed on Tuesday when a rocket hit a busy market place in an eastern suburb of the Syrian capital Damascus, state media said, while rescuers said Syrian and Russian airstrikes killed dozens in nearby rebel-held areas.

Russian Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia told reporters on Tuesday that Syrian forces had found stockpiles of chemical weapons in areas formerly held by rebels in Eastern Ghouta.

Rebel groups have stepped up artillery attacks since pro-government forces launched a major air and ground assault on the Eastern Ghouta a month ago.

In fighting that lasted 24 hours, the terrorist group killed 36 Syrian soldiers, the British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

In May past 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.

Oways al-Shami, the Civil Defense spokesman, said continued bombing was slowing down rescue operations.

Protesters have been long demanding the resignation of President Bashar al-Assad over his autocratic rule. "Five civilians were kille and two others were wounded", he said.

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The bodies of 20 women and children were retrieved from the rubble, said the group, also known as the White Helmets.

After a seventh day of medical evacuations on Tuesday, some 1,800 civilians including 375 patients had crossed over into government-held territory, a medical source said.

An AFP correspondent in Douma reported heavy bombardment through the night from Monday to Tuesday that left ambulances struggling to reach the wounded.

Some 50,000 civilians have streamed out of the enclave into areas under government control.

Meanwhile, the United Nations children's agency said some 100,000 people were trapped in rural areas of the northern Syrian district of Afrin and in need of humanitarian aid after Turkish and allied Syrian forces drove out a Syrian Kurdish militia there.

"UNHCR and its partners have been working around the clock to provide life-saving assistance", Mahecic said, noting that so far 180,000 core relief items, such as mattresses, high thermal blankets, plastic sheets, winter clothes kits, solar lamps, jerry cans, and kitchen sets, have been delivered.