Syrian army renews push on besieged areas

Syrian army renews push on besieged areasThe Syrian army began an intense bombardment of a rebel enclave near Homs on Monday, a war monitor said, as President Bashar al-Assad pushed to recapture all the remaining areas his forces have besieged. The attack comes as Syrian state television broadcast footage of work to clear roads into part of a pocket in south Damascus where fighting had raged, to allow some rebels there to withdraw in a surrender deal, it said. Late on Sunday, the Syrian army said missiles had struck bases in northern Syria, describing it as a “new aggression” by its enemies.


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Assad steps up efforts to crush last besieged enclaves

Assad steps up efforts to crush last besieged enclavesBy Angus McDowall and Suleiman Al-Khalidi BEIRUT/AMMAN (Reuters) – The Syrian government stepped up its efforts on Thursday to retake the opposition’s last besieged enclaves, as rebels prepared to withdraw from one and a newspaper reported an ultimatum against another. President Bashar al-Assad scored a major victory this month by retaking eastern Ghouta, the biggest rebel stronghold near Damascus, putting his forces in by far their strongest position since the early months of the seven-year-old civil war. The United States, Britain and France launched a volley of air strikes on Saturday against three Syrian targets in retaliation for a suspected chemical weapons strike during the Ghouta assault.


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Syrian rebels evacuate key town in besieged eastern Ghouta

  1. Syrian rebels evacuate key town in besieged eastern Ghouta  CBS News
  2. Syrian rebels to leave key town in eastern Ghouta enclave  ABC News
  3. Syrian rebels and families begin to leave besieged Eastern Ghouta after deal  Telegraph.co.uk
  4. Turkey Is Launching the Next Middle East War With Attacks on Kurds in Iraq and Syria  Newsweek
  5. Full coverage


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Thousands flee in first mass exodus from Syria's besieged eastern Ghouta

Thousands flee in first mass exodus from Syria's besieged eastern GhoutaThousands of Syrian civilians fled from a rebel pocket in eastern Ghouta on Thursday, crossing by foot to army positions in the first mass exodus from the besieged enclave since Syrian government forces launched an assault to capture it a month ago. Men, women and children staggered under the weight of blankets, bags and suitcases as they walked along a dirt road to army lines on the outskirts of Hammouriyeh town. Others reached government positions in the nearby town of Beit Sawa on wheelchairs.


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Syria marks 7 years of war; hundreds leave besieged enclave

  1. Syria marks 7 years of war; hundreds leave besieged enclave  Washington Post
  2. Syrians stream out of rebel-held Ghouta town as army advances  Reuters
  3. The Latest: Aid convoy enters Syria’s eastern Ghouta  Miami Herald
  4. Seven years on, the West should stop feigning heartbreak over Syria  CNN
  5. Syria War Anniversary: These Pictures Show How The Country Has Changed After Seven Years of Conflict  Newsweek
  6. Full coverage


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Syrian troops cut besieged Damascus suburb in three after major gains

Syrian troops cut besieged Damascus suburb in three after major gainsBashar al-Assad’s troops have made major gains in Eastern Ghouta, splitting the enclave in three, as a group of rebels left in the first evacuation deal. The advancements separate the largest town of Douma from the rest of the opposition pocket and trapping civilians in increasingly shrinking territory. As part of a divide-and-conquer strategy, Syrian troops seized control of the road linking Douma with the town of Harasta further west, and also captured the town of Misraba. The government now controls more of Eastern Ghouta – an estimated 40 per cent – than at any time since they besieged the area five years ago. Children gather wood in the besieged town of Douma, Eastern Ghouta, in Damascus Credit: Reuters Jaish al-Islam, one of the dominant rebel groups in the Damascus suburb, agreed to evacuate prisoners from an Islamist rebel group aligned to al-Qaeda that they had been holding. The extremist militants from Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) are excluded from the yet-to-be-implemented UN ceasefire and their presence provided a justification for the government bombardment of the area. Eastern Ghouta is controlled by a complex patchwork of rebels including Jaish al-Islam and Failaq al-Rahman, which have distanced themselves from HTS. Rebels evacuated from the Eastern Ghouta enclave on the outskirts of the capital Damascus, riding on a bus through the al-Wafideen crossing Credit: SANA The some 13 fighters and their families were sent to a town in central Hama province controlled by HTS. A humanitarian corridor was set up for civilians by the Syrian government and its Russian ally last week, but so far few have left. A UN official who accompanied a recent relief convoy into the pocket said both the regime and the rebels were preventing civilians from leaving. Sajjad Malik, the UN Refugee Agency’s representative to Syria, said snipers from opposition groups positioned near the corridor, and government air strikes, were stopping people escaping the escalating violence. “They said, ‘These guys are preventing us’ ” while pointing at nearby rebel fighters, Mr Malik said. A Syrian girl sits on the floor as United Nations’ aid convoy enters the Douma town of Eastern Ghouta Credit: Getty “They want out — either the bombing to stop, or to get out. But reach safety where?” he said in an interview in Beirut. “We are getting to a point where there is literally no flight option. What worse situation could there be?” The UN convoy was the first to reach the some 400,000 residents of Eastern Ghouta since the government began its offensive there in mid-February. Families have been living in their basement to avoid the air strikes, leaving only to try to find food. Some 1,000 have been killed and as many as 3,000 injured in the last three weeks. “I’ve never seen such scared faces in my life that I’ve seen there,” Mr Malik added. “You can see it in their eyes, you can see it in their expressions. But they’re also desperate for someone to come and help them out.” He said the town was marked by the stench of death, with bodies lying unclaimed in the rubble.


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Syria regime pummels besieged Eastern Ghouta

Syria regime pummels besieged Eastern GhoutaSyrian forces pursued a relentless air and ground offensive against Eastern Ghouta on Thursday, moving closer to retaking the rebel enclave but also depriving desperate civilians of vital aid. More than 930 civilians have been killed in the nearly three-week assault on the last rebel enclave outside the capital, where dozens suffered overnight from a suspected chlorine attack. On another front in Syria’s complex seven-year war, pro-Turkey rebels seized control of the key northern town of Jandairis from Kurdish fighters.


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