Syria’s regime has retaken two more towns in eastern Ghouta, a war monitor has said, pressing an offensive to capture the rebel enclave on the doorstep of Damascus.
The U.N. Human Rights Office warned Friday that it has received “alarming reports” from the northwestern town of Afrin, where Turkish forces are battling Kurdish fighters.
The YPG and the Observatory had said a Turkish air strike on the town’s main hospital killed 16 people the night before. In both cases, hundreds of thousands of civilians have been trapped inside areas on the battlefield.
The government forces, for ir part, have intensified bombardments on Guta Oriental, in periphery of capital, Damascus, and where y survive several bags of territory under control of armed opposition, mostly Islamist factions. Some waved to the camera and said the rebels had stopped them from leaving.
No medical staff were among the dead, he told AFP.
Long lines formed outside public bathrooms, and displaced families complained of lack of access to water or mattresses.
Four major rebel groups are now positioned in Eastern Ghouta, namely the Islam Army, Failaq al-Rahman, Ahrar al-Sham, and the Levant Liberation Committee, known as the al-Qaida-linked Nusra Front.
On Wednesday, the United Nations said that the city was cut off from its water supplies as Turkish troops seized the main dam and water plant in the region.
That negotiations track had already produced six days of calm for Ghouta’s largest town of Douma, he said.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said at least 96 civilians were killed in Russian and regime air strikes on the southwestern Ghouta pocket on Friday.
Oways al-Shami, a spokesman for Syrian Civil Defense, said the airstrike targeted a market and a nearby residential area where scores of people have gathered. Made up of mainly ethnic Kurds, the town as been under constant assault for almost a month from the air and the ground by Turkish forces and Syrian rebels supported by the government of president Bashar al Assad.
Elsehwere, Turkish forces are pushing their way into the northern Kurdish-held town of Afrin.
Air strikes killed dozens of people in eastern Ghouta on Friday and Syrians fled rebel territory toward government positions for a second day, a war monitor said, as the government pressed its advance on the biggest opposition bastion near Damascus.
Serwan Bery, co-chair of the Kurdish Red Crescent, said earlier it had been the city’s only functioning hospital.
Referring to the Eastern Ghouta, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said the bombing of civilians was unacceptable.
The leaflets claimed that civilians desiring to flee Afrin would be guaranteed safety by the Turkish military and urged Syrian Kurdish fighters to “trust the hand we extend to you”.
The conflict has left more than 350,000 people dead, 1.5 million others with permanent disabilities, and displaced 11 million both inside Syria and overseas.
Turkey’s treatment of Kurdish detainees, who are virtually always labeled “terrorists”, has not been great, which is probably informing the decision of a lot of the defensive forces in Afrin to continue resisting.