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Fighting in Syria's Ghouta drives out 50,000 civilians - U.N.

Strikes hit Syria's battered Ghouta as death toll hits 800
Fighting in Syria's Ghouta drives out 50,000 civilians - U.N.
The fighting in Syria’s besieged enclave of eastern Ghouta has reportedly driven all civilians out of the towns of Mesraba, Hammouriyeh and Mudeira, which had a combined population of 50,000 in December, Reuters quoted a UN official as saying.

The civilians were displaced to other areas not under government control, adding to the 15,000 or so people that the UN estimated were displaced within eastern Ghouta at the end of January, humanitarian spokeswoman Linda Tom said.

It was reported earlier that the Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad's forces are poised to slice opposition-held eastern Ghouta in two as forces advancing from the east link up with troops at its western edge, a pro-Damascus commander said, piling more pressure on the last major opposition enclave near the capital.

Assad's regime, backed in the war by Russia and Iran, is seeking to crush the enclave in a ferocious campaign that the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says has killed 898 civilians in the last 18 days, including 91 on Wednesday.

The opposition, who accuse the government of “scorched earth” tactics, said they were deploying more guerrilla-style ambushes in lost territory, trying to stop further advances.