Syria's Douma faces 'catastrophe' as regime presses assault
Syria's rebel-held city of Douma is facing a "catastrophic" situation as thousands seek refuge from a brutal regime assault in Eastern Ghouta, local officials say.
Since the escalation of the military offensive against Eastern Ghouta on 18 February, over 1,031 civilians have been killed, including 219 children. More than 4,350 have been wounded, reported a war monitor.
Regime forces have captured more than half of the rebel enclave and have besieged Douma, cutting if off from neighbouring areas.
Thousands of civilians are now sheltering in the streets and public gardens as basements and shelters are already overcrowded.
"After more than 20 days of the barbaric campaign and mass annihilation of eastern Ghouta.. this has led to a deterioration of the humanitarian and food situation to a catastrophic level," the opposition-run local Douma council said.
"It is completely uninhabitable. It is not even safe to put chickens in. There is no bathroom, just one toilet, and there are 300 people," one man in a heavily damaged shelter in Douma said, according to Reuters.
The Douma council says burials of the dead at the main cemetery have been suspended due to the intensity of regime bombardments, with bodies now being buried in public parks.
Local residents said dozens of people are still buried alive under rubble with rescuers unable to reach them due to air raids.
Earlier on Monday an agreement was reached between one of Syria's main rebel groups in the besieged enclave and the Assad regime's ally Russia on Monday to evacuate wounded people from Eastern Ghouta, said Jaish al-Islam.
The agreement was reached with the UN meditating between the two parties, as the Syrian regime continued its relentless assault of the rebel-held enclave near the capital.
Defying global calls for a ceasefire, Syria's regime has pursued a ferocious Russian-backed air campaign and ground offensive to capture the region, the last rebel bastion on the capital's doorstep.
Aid groups and NGOs have slammed the regimes brutality, with Save the Children describing the extent of the campaign's destruction as surpassing even the Aleppo crisis in 2016.