Syrian army advances in Eastern Ghouta

Syrian army advances in Eastern Ghouta

ReutersA child is carried as refugees flee eastern Ghouta.

According to AI, Syria's Eastern Ghouta has been under a catastrophic situation; with more than 400,000 people suffering under the Syrian government's tightened siege since November 2017.

A Reuters witness and state-run media separately said thousands were leaving.

Major General Yuri Yevtushenko was quoted by the Interfax news agency as saying 131 people left the area through the humanitarian corridor on Wednesday.

"This is not new for the people of Eastern Ghouta: people who've been trapped in a cruel siege for almost six years are now being attacked daily, killed and maimed by their government".

Eastern Ghouta had been the main rebel bastion on the outskirts of Damascus since 2012 and came under a devastating regime siege the following year.

Still, reports say that Douma will be excluded from the military operation as the Islam Army, which is in control of that area, is not designated as a terror group.

"This is just a little of what these families need", the ICRC said.

ICRC spokeswoman Iolanda Jaquemet said the convoy, which entered through the al-Wafideen crossing with the United Nations, contained food aid for 26,100 people for one month, among other items. A parcel can feed a family of five for one month.

The observatory added that 12,500 civilians have left the areas of Failaq al-Rahman rebels through Hamouriyeh on Thursday, marking the largest wave of evacuation from civilians since the Russian-backed humanitarian pause for the civilian evacuation started two weeks ago.

The AFP news agency reported that residents, majority women and children, were seen fleeing on foot, in cars, and on motorcycles via the town of Hammuriyeh, where the Syrian Army opened a corridor.

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Men interviewed on camera praised the Syrian army and President Bashar Assad and said armed groups had humiliated them and held them against their will in eastern Ghouta.

Maj. Gen. Vladimir Zolotukhin says some 100 people are expected to be evacuated on Thursday.

The army's onslaught of air and artillery strikes have battered eastern Ghouta for nearly a month, killing more than 1,100 people and injuring thousands more, the United Nations has said. "The warplanes are targeting anything that moves", Ismail al-Khateeb said late on Wednesday. But residents say they have come under fire.

The rebels deny this and say most residents are now fleeing because of the government's bombs falling on Ghouta.

The Syrian government has advanced steadily into Eastern Ghouta, starting with villages and towns in the east before regime forces split the rebel-held areas of the suburb into three parts last week.

According to videos shown by those sources, the number of those who leave Hamamuriyah, still partly controlled by terrorist groups, amounts to some 2,000 people, including women and children. The sound of explosions briefly rang out in the background.

"The fate of those who tried to escape is still unknown", activist Youssef Bustany said. "They fired at him and brought down the flag", the unnamed man said. Others reached government positions in the nearby town of Beit Sawa on wheelchairs.

British Christian aid agencies are among many worldwide organisations attempting to bring relief in one of the worst humanitarian emergencies of modern times.

Wael Olwan, spokesman for Failaq al-Rahman, accused the army in a tweet of storming Hammouriyeh and exploiting the plight of civilians fleeing air strikes.

The Syrian conflict enters its eighth year this week.