Ghouta Strikes Claim 250 Lives, The Highest Death Toll Since 2013

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A Syrian regime air campaign has killed nearly 300 civilians in three days in the eastern suburbs of Damascus, intensifying President Bashar Al Assad's efforts to reclaim one of the country's last rebel-held enclaves.

Pro-government forces have pounded the rebel-held northeastern suburbs of the Syrian capital, Damascus, in a surge of violence that a war monitor said had killed at least 250 people and raised the spectre of a full-scale offensive that could spell catastrophe for the almost 400,000 residents trapped under siege.

Bombardment of the enclave on the outskirts of Damascus on Tuesday killed 106 civilians, including 19 children, the Observatory said.

A massive escalation in bombardment, including rocket fire, shelling, air strikes and helicopter-dropped barrel bombs, since Sunday has become one of the deadliest of the Syrian civil war, now entering its eighth year.

"A critical humanitarian and socio-economic situation is developing in eastern Ghouta", the statement said.

Turkish presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalin said the convoy of up to 50 vehicles had retreated east of Aleppo, adding: "It appears that their aim was a little bit of a show and a little bit of propaganda".

Syrian government forces are also carrying out offensives on the rebel-held north-western province of Idlib.

The bombardment has forced many among the almost 400,000 residents to sleep in basements and makeshift shelters, and has overwhelmed rescue workers who have spent days digging out survivors from the wreckage of bombed out buildings. Another 878 people have been wounded, mostly in airstrikes hitting residential areas.

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The recent surge in violence in Eastern Ghouta, which has been besieged by the Syrian government since 2013, is part of President Bashar al-Assad's campaign to seize Syria's last remaining opposition-held territories.

Several medical facilities in Eastern Ghouta were reported to have been struck on Monday, the CNN report said.

Russian Federation called for an urgent council meeting on Thursday to discuss the crisis in Eastern Ghouta which Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia described as a "complex situation". "We make a plea to those in and around Eastern Ghouta with medical supplies to urgently grant access to those stocks to the medics in Eastern Ghouta-lives depend on it".

Almost 300 people have been killed and 1,400 wounded since the attacks on the only rebel-held area near Damascus started earlier this week.

The Observatory said numerous planes over Ghouta appear to be Russian.

Anti-regime groups have controlled the area since 2012. "This is madness and it has to stop".

"There has been quite a dramatic increase in mortar strikes on civilian areas" of government-held Damascus, United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) spokeswoman Linda Tom told Syria Direct from the Syrian capital on Wednesday. "This is preliminary bombing", the commander said.

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