Government shelling halts rare aid delivery to Syria's eastern Ghouta

Government shelling halts rare aid delivery to Syria's eastern Ghouta
From CBC - March 6, 2018

The first aid delivery in weeks to reach the besieged eastern suburbs of Damascus was cut short after Syrian government forces began shelling the area while aid workers were still inside, a local council said Tuesdayamidrenewed escalation in the government's deadly aerial and ground campaign.

Monday's shipment was the first to enter eastern Ghouta amid weeks of a crippling siege and a government assault that has killed hundreds of civilians since February 18.

The International Committee for the Red Cross confirmed that its joint convoy with the United Nations had to leave before offloading all its supplies on account of the deteriorating security situation.

Ingy Sedky, the ICRC spokespersonin Syria, said most of the aid from a 46-truck convoy was delivered to the town of Douma in eastern Ghouta but the mission was cut short before the rest of the supplies could be unloaded.

Iyad Abdelaziz, a member of the Douma Local Council, said nine aid trucks had to leave the area after government shelling and airstrikes intensified in the evening.

'Poisongas' reported

Airstrikes continued Tuesday. The opposition's Syrian Civil Defence search-and-rescue group reported at least nine people were killed in airstrikes on the town of Jisreen, in eastern Ghouta.

The group, also known as the White Helmets, added that two of its volunteers, and 28 others, suffered difficulties breathing following shelling on the town of Hammouriyeh on Monday evening. It accused the government of using "poison gas." The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported 18 people suffered breathing difficulties, without attributing a cause.

It was the eighth allegation of chlorine gas use reported by the Syrian American Medical Society this year. The reports could not be independently confirmed, and Russia used its Security Council veto to freeze the work of a UNbody investigating such reports earlier this year.

Still, the allegations could provoke a response from Washington, which says it could take military action against the Syrian government for continued chemical weapons use against its own people.

The Syrian government, through the SANA state news agency, denied using chemical weapons in its eastern Ghouta offensive.

Fighting in north


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