‘Deadliest day’ in years as women and children killed near Damascus

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At least 98 people have died following intense Syrian government shelling and airstrikes on rebel-held suburbs of Damascus.

Monday was the deadliest day in the Syrian capital for three years. Retaliatory shells raining down on Tuesday killed at least one more person, a monitoring group and paramedics said.

Twenty children and 15 women are believed to be among those killed in the last 36 hours.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said it was the deadliest day in the city since 2015.

The UN children’s agency, UNICEF, condemned the killings, issuing a blank statement under a headline saying: “Do those inflicting the suffering still have words to justify their barbaric acts?”

UNICEF said: “We no longer have the words to describe children’s suffering and our outrage.”

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The areas around Damascus have been subjected to weeks-long bombardment

Monday’s bombardment saw the use of war planes, helicopter gunships, missiles and artillery.

The targeted suburbs across an area known as eastern Ghouta have been subjected to weeks-long bombardment that has killed and wounded hundreds of people.

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Hundreds of people have been injured

Opposition activists say Syrian government forces have brought in more reinforcements in recent days, suggesting a major assault is imminent to recapture Ghouta – the last main rebel stronghold in Damascus.

The opposition-linked Syrian Civil Defence, also known as White Helmets, said the shelling and airstrikes killed 98 people, including one of its members, and some people are still trapped under rubble.

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Ghouta is the last main rebel stronghold in Damascus

The Observatory and the White Helmets both said rebels continued to hit Ghouta with mortar shells on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan says Turkish troops involved in an offensive to drive out Syrian Kurdish militiamen from a Syrian enclave will soon begin a siege of the city of Afrin.

Mr Erdogan said on Tuesday that the month-long offensive into the northwestern enclave of Afrin has so far been progressing slowly but will commence at a “more rapid rate” in the coming days.



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