By Tom Perry and Stephanie Nebehay BEIRUT/GENEVA (Reuters) – Thousands of civilians have fled advances by Syrian government forces in eastern Ghouta over the last two days, a war monitor and a resident said on Sunday, as Damascus wages an offensive to crush the last major rebel enclave near the capital. A commander in the military alliance that backs President Bashar al-Assad said government forces needed to advance just a few more kilometers (miles) into the enclave to split it in two. A U.N. humanitarian official said 400,000 people in eastern Ghouta were being subjected to unacceptable “collective punishment”, and called for the implementation of a 30-day ceasefire demanded by the U.N. Security Council.
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