United Nations plans to deliver aid to Syria's Ghouta tomorrow

Militants announce curfew for time of humanitarian pauses in Syria’s Eastern Ghouta

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad said Sunday his forces must push on with their campaign to retake the besieged enclave of Eastern Ghouta from rebels, despite mounting global calls to end the bloodshed.

Syrian regime forces have killed 23 civilians in ongoing attacks in Eastern Ghouta, the Syrian Civil Defense said Friday.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said Assad forces had advanced to three kilometres from Douma, the main town, after seizing control of "more than 25 percent" of the enclave, in operations mostly through farmlands.

Damascus, backed by Russian Federation and Iran, has been waging one of the deadliest offensives of the war in Eastern Ghouta, killing hundreds of people in a fierce air and artillery bombardment over the last two weeks.

No civilians have exited through a humanitarian corridor set up by Russian Federation and the Syrian government almost a week ago.

Russia-backed regime forces have since February 18 killed more than 640 civilians - including over 150 children - in a ferocious bombardment of Eastern Ghouta, one of the armed opposition's last strongholds in the country.

A commander in the military alliance fighting in support of President Bashar al-Assad said fighting was underway in al-Shayfouniya, without giving further details.

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani unveils plan for peace talks with Taleban
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The UN Security Council demanded a 30-day countrywide ceasefire a week ago, but this has failed to take effect.

Eastern Ghouta is one of the last major rebel-held areas of the country, which has been ravaged by civil war for nearly seven years.

Earlier, a United Nations official in Syria told Reuters a humanitarian convoy carrying life-saving supplies from United Nations and other aid agencies would not enter Eastern Ghouta as had been planned on Sunday, citing a lack of permission. "This collective punishment of civilians is simply unacceptable", he added in a statement.

"DISTURBING REPORTS " Moumtzis also expressed concern about the situation in Afrin, a Kurdish region under Turkish assault since January, saying there were "disturbing reports" of civilian deaths and injuries and restrictions on civilian movement.

Hamza Bayraqdar, a spokesman for Jaish al-Islam, tweeted that the group's forces had launched "surprise attacks" against regime positions.

Assad, in his turn, accused the US-led coalition of effectively operating as an air force for Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) and Al-Nusra front terrorist groups.

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