Rescuers say cannot keep up with air
strikes battering Syria's Ghouta
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[February 24, 2018]
BEIRUT (Reuters) - Rescuers in
Syria's eastern Ghouta said the bombing would not let up long enough for
them to count the bodies, in one of the bloodiest air assaults of the
Warplanes pounded the rebel enclave on Saturday, the seventh day in a
row of a fierce escalation by Damascus and its allies, an emergency
service, a witness and a monitoring group said.
Residents holed up in basements and medical charities decried attacks on
a dozen hospitals, as the United Nations pleaded for a truce in Ghouta,
the only big rebel bastion near the capital.
There was no immediate comment from the Syrian military.
The Damascus government and Russia, its ally, say they only target
militants. They have said they seek to stop rebel mortar attacks on the
capital and accused insurgents in Ghouta of holding people as human
A surge of rocket fire, shelling and air strikes has killed nearly 500
people since Sunday night, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.
The dead included more than 120 children.
The Britain-based monitor said raids hit Douma, Hammouriyeh and other
towns there on Saturday, killing 24 people.
First responders rushed to search for survivors after strikes on Kafr
Batna, Douma and Harasta, the Civil Defence in eastern Ghouta said. The
rescue service, which operates in rebel territory, said it had
documented at least 350 deaths in four days earlier this week.
"Maybe there are many more," said Siraj Mahmoud, a civil defense
spokesman in the suburbs. "We weren't able to count the martyrs
yesterday or the day before because the warplanes are touring the
As the bombs rain down, some hitting emergency centers and vehicles, the
rescuers have struggled to pull people from the rubble, Mahmoud said.
"But if we have to go out running on our legs and dig with our hands to
rescue the people, we will still be here."
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People walk through the damage, after an air raid in the besieged
town of Douma, Eastern Ghouta, Damascus, Syria February 23, 2018.
A witness in Douma said he woke up in the early hours on Saturday to
the sound of jets bombing nearby. The streets have mostly remained
The United Nations says nearly 400,000 people live in eastern
Ghouta, a pocket of satellite towns and farms under government siege
since 2013, without enough food or medicine.
The U.N. Security Council on Friday delayed voting on a draft
resolution that demands a 30-day ceasefire across Syria to allow aid
access and medical evacuations.
The 15-member council is to vote on the resolution, which Sweden and
Kuwait drafted, on Saturday. The delay followed a flurry of
last-minute talks on the text after Russia, a veto-holding ally of
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, had proposed new amendments.
Syrian state media said Ghouta factions fired mortars at the Old
City of Damascus on Saturday. Insurgent shelling killed one person
and injured 60 more a day earlier, it said, and the army pounded
militant targets in the suburbs in response.
Several previous ceasefire attempts have quickly unraveled during
the multi-sided conflict, which has killed hundreds of thousands and
forced 11 million people out of their homes.
(Reporting by Ellen Francis and Dahlia Nehme; Editing by Janet
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