POST TIME: 22 February, 2018 00:00 00 AM
Fears and outrage over bloodshed in Syria enclave

Fears and outrage over bloodshed in Syria enclave

Members of a Syrian civil defence team rescue a child following a reported regime air strike in the rebel-held town of Hamouria, in the besieged Eastern Ghouta region on the outskirts of the capital Damascus yesterday. AFP photo

BEIRUT: Syrian jets carried out more deadly raids on Eastern Ghouta yesterday, as Western powers and aid agencies voiced alarm over the mounting death toll and spiralling humanitarian catastrophe, reports AFP.

The regime of President Bashar al-Assad intensified its strikes this month on the rebel enclave east of Damascus, where close to 300 civilians have been killed since Sunday.

Warplanes continued to pound Eastern Ghouta towns on Wednesday, killing 24 civilians, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

Most of them were killed when barrel bombs—crude, improvised munitions that usually cause indiscriminate damage—were dropped on the town of Kfar Batna, the Britain-based war monitor said.

More than 1,400 people were wounded in three days that saw the bloodiest wave of strikes on the enclave since the start of the civil war in 2011.

Medics have been overwhelmed throughout February. The five-year siege of the enclave has restricted access to medical supplies, while three clinics were hit and put out of service this week.

The hospital in the town of Arbin was hit twice on Tuesday and the Observatory said Russian warplanes had carried out that strike and others, its first on Eastern Ghouta in three months.

The Kremlin on Wednesday denied any involvement in the strikes and rejected reports to the contrary as “groundless accusations.”

The hospital in Douma, the largest town in Eastern Ghouta, is still functioning but the influx of wounded is such that doctors and nurses cannot save everyone.

“We received a mother yesterday who was pulled from the rubble. She was six-months pregnant and seriously wounded,” said surgical nurse Maram.

“We did a C-section but could not save her, nor her baby,” she said.

Next to her a man expressed his anger after bringing the body of his neighbours’ daughter—retrieved dead from the rubble of her home—to the mortuary.

“What crime did this girl commit, what is her crime?,” he shouted.

Observatory head Rami Abdel Rahman said at least 67 children were among the 274 people killed in strikes since Sunday. The bloodshed prompted UN children’s agency UNICEF to issue a largely blank statement saying “we no longer have the words to describe children’s suffering.”

UN chief Antonio Guterres said he was “deeply alarmed” by the escalation of violence.

US State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert criticised the “siege and starve tactics” of the Assad regime and said: “The cessation of violence must begin now.”