New Straits Times

Syrians flee govt advances in eastern Ghouta


DAMASCUS: Hundreds of people are fleeing advances by Syrian government forces in eastern Ghouta, a war monitor and a resident said yesterday, as Damascus presses an offensive to crush the last major rebel stronghold near the capital.

Government forces are thrusting into the besieged rebel enclave from its eastern edge to split it in two, a pattern of attack used repeatedly by Damascus and its allies in the war entering its eighth year.

Orient TV, which supports the opposition to President Bashar al-Assad, said advances by proAssad forces had triggered largescale displaceme­nt. People were seeking shelter in areas closer to the centre of eastern Ghouta, said the resident, who estimated thousands were on the move.

The Syrian Observator­y for Human Rights, a Britain-based organisati­on that reports on the war, estimated that between 300 and 400 families had fled, adding that government bombardmen­t was focused on the town of Mesraba.

Damascus, backed by Russia and Iran, has been waging one of the deadliest offensives of the war in eastern Ghouta, killing hundreds of people in a fierce air and artillery bombardmen­t over the last two weeks.

The observator­y said the Syrian regime now “controls 10 per cent of the besieged eastern Ghouta region”.

It said regime forces recaptured four areas and two air bases.

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