Syrian troops launch new offensives in Ghouta in defiance of Russian truce

A 9-year-old girl receives treatment at a makeshift hospital following recent Syrian government bombardments on rebel-held town of Saqba

" In the February 26 letter seen by Reuters, Mogherini also urged Russia, Turkey and Iran to "take all necessary steps to ensure that the fighting stops, that the Syrian people are protected, and finally that urgent humanitarian access and necessary medical evacuations are taking place". Movement in and out is prohibited except at a handful of crossings, heavily guarded by both regime and rebel forces.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has said that Moscow will continue to help Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's government to defeat what he called the "terrorist threat".

"We call on you.to take all necessary steps to ensure that the fighting stops, that the Syrian people are protected, and finally that urgent humanitarian access and necessary medical evacuations are taking place".

The preliminary analysis conducted by UNOSAT of satellite imagery from eastern Ghouta's towns of Kafr Batna and Arbeen shows new damage in a 62.5-square-kilometer (24-square-mile) area, with buildings completely destroyed or damaged since December 3.

Since the UN Security Council voted unanimously in favor of a 30-day ceasefire in Syria last Saturday, the besieged Damascus suburb of Eastern Ghouta has seen "More bombing".

Inside Eastern Ghouta, the residents AFP spoke to were distrustful of a measure put in place by Russian Federation, whose warplanes rained munitions on them alongside Syrian aircraft.

A top United Nations aid official says five-hour daily pauses in fighting in Syria's embattled eastern Ghouta region laid out under a "unilateral" plan by Russian Federation are not enough. Le Drian pressed Russian Federation to use its influence with Syria's military to enforce the United Nations -backed ceasefire.

The analysis released Thursday appears to reflect the ferocious fighting that has occurred in the suburb over the past month.

27 2018 shows smoke plumes rising during reported regime bombardment Syrian rebel-held town of Douma in the besieged Eastern Ghouta region on the outskirts of the capital Damascus

Putin did not say when the civilians had managed to leave.

"We can not afford to have the luxury of giving up".

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said government shelling and limited clashes were reported on three fronts since the pause began: near Douma, in Harasta Farms, and near Shifouniyah.

Moscow's "humanitarian pause" echoes a similar tactic employed by Russian Federation and the Syrian regime as they looked to force rebels out of second city Aleppo during a ferocious 2016 battle. The opposition's Syrian Civil Defense, also known as the White Helmets, said a total of 12 people were killed on Thursday.

"Demands to overnight, immediately halt hostilities attest to a failure to understand realities on the ground or a deliberate exploitation of human tragedy", Nebenzia said.

Rebel groups protested Russia's ceasefire initiative, which followed the passing of U.N. Security Council 2401 on Sunday.

While the government campaign to regain control of eastern Ghouta has dragged on for years, the intensifying military offensive in recent weeks has produced what United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres called "hell on earth" for the nearly 400,000 trapped civilians.

Kelley Currie, the U.S. ambassador for economic and social affairs, called a five-hour pause "cynical, callous, and in flagrant defiance of the demands" for a cessation of hostilities "for at least 30 days - every day, all day".

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