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Syrian regime ground forces attack Ghouta despite Russian truce plan

Bombardment in Eastern Ghouta has left hundreds killed
Syrian regime forces launched a ground assault on the edge of the rebel-held eastern Ghouta enclave on Wednesday, seeking to gain territory despite a Russian plan for five-hour daily ceasefires, Reuters quoted a war monitor and sources on both sides as saying.
Hundreds of people have died in 11 days of bombing of the eastern Ghouta, a swathe of towns and farms outside Damascus that is the last major rebel-held area near the capital. The onslaught has been one of the fiercest of the civil war, now entering its eighth year.
The U.N. Security Council, including Bashar al-Assad’s strongest ally Russia, passed a resolution on Saturday calling for a 30-day countrywide ceasefire, but it has not come into effect, with Moscow and Damascus saying they are battling members of banned terrorist groups excluded from the truce.
Russia has instead proposed daily five-hour local ceasefires to establish what it calls a humanitarian corridor so aid can enter the enclave and civilians and wounded can be evacuated. The first such truce took place on Tuesday but quickly collapsed when bombing and shelling resumed after a short lull.
Moscow and Damascus have accused rebels of shelling the corridor to prevent people leaving. Rebels deny this, and say people will not leave eastern Ghouta because they fear the government. A senior U.S. general accused Moscow of acting as “both arsonist and firefighter” by failing to rein in Assad.
Wednesday’s ground assault targeted the Hawsh al-Dawahra area at the eastern edge of the rebel-held area.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a monitoring group, reported advances by the government forces in the area, describing it as the resumption of an assault that first began on Feb. 25. It said rebels had inflicted heavy losses on government forces.
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