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Scores of Syrian civilians killed in 'Russian airstrikes' on rebel stronghold of Eastern Ghouta

The ongoing bombardment of the region has resulted in scores of civilian casualties [Getty]

Date of publication: 4 January, 2018

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Dozens of civilians, including women and children, have been killed during the ongoing Russian-backed siege of rebel-held Eastern Ghouta in northwest Syria.
At least 23 Syrian civilians have been killed during mainly Russian airstrikes on the last rebel stronghold of Eastern Ghouta near Damascus on Wednesday.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights told AFP that 18 people were killed by Russian strikes in the town of Misraba, while the remainder died in shelling from government forces. 

Three children and 11 women were among those killed in the strike, it was reported by the monitor.

Victims were taken to a hospital in the besieged city of Douma, where an AFP correspondent saw rescuers bringing in mostly women and children.

Medical staff tried to revive an infant who had been pulled from the rubble, but without success. A young girl among the wounded received stitches for a serious injury to her face.

A medical source at the hospital told AFP that "among the wounded were two women in their twenties. One of them lost both eyes and the other lost one eye."

According to the Syrian Network for Human Rights, 10,204 civilians were killed in 2017, including 2,298 children and 1,536 women. The war has killed more than 340,000 people and displaced millions from their homes since it began in 2011 with the brutal regime repression of anti-government protests by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Eastern Ghouta, a small enclave east of the capital Damascus, is controlled mostly by rebels from the Jaish al-Islam group. 

The rebel-held area has been the target of heavy and ongoing bombardment, with the International Committee of the Red Cross labelling the humanitarian situation "critical" n December. 

The 400,000 people trapped in the Eastern Ghouta face crippling shortages of food, fuel and medicines, with 500 waiting to be evacuated for life-saving medical care.

The rebel-held area has been the target of heavy and
ongoing bombardment, with the International Committee
of the Red Cross labelling the humanitarian situation
'critical' in December [Getty]

"Chronic disease sufferers and people with severe injuries are struggling to access care," the ICRC's Middle East director, Robert Mardini, told the BBC in December.

"The sick and injured must not be used as pawns in negotiations between the different parties involved in the fighting. Medical attention must be promptly given to those who need it irrespective of who they are."

Russia first launched bombing raids in 2015 in support of Syrian President Assad's beleaguered forces. The strikes have helped Assad regain control over much of the war-ravaged country.

The Observatory relies on a network of sources inside Syria and says it determines whose planes carry out raids according to type, location, flight patterns and munitions used.

The latest raids came after at least seven civilians, including five children, were killed by airstrikes in the northwestern Idlib province on Tuesday, the last outside government control, the Observatory said.

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