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Second aid convoy to Syria's eastern Ghouta postponed as violence escalates

Second aid convoy to Syria's eastern Ghouta postponed as violence escalates

Meanwhile, the government has said it will send reinforcements, including 700 fighters, to join a battle against rebel groups in an effort to defeat them in their last major stronghold, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) said on Wednesday.

The government, backed in the war by Russian Federation and Iran, is seeking to crush the last major rebel enclave near Damascus in a ferocious campaign that the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says has killed 893 civilians in the last 18 days, including 91 on Wednesday.

The campaign has so far left at least 867 civilians dead, including dozens of children, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

Syrian and allied forces have reportedly retaken half of the territory rebels held in Eastern Ghouta.

After attacking mostly from the air - in a campaign that involved Russian warplanes and saw Syria aircraft using barrel bombs - pro-government forces launched a ground offensive.

Several families were seen trying to reach fresh air late yesterday on the roof of a four-storey building in Hammuriyeh, after air strikes on their neighbourhood.

SAMS is a medical charity that supports hospitals in Eastern Ghouta and other rebel-controlled zones in Syria.

The UN's top body met behind closed doors on Wednesday for three hours in an attempt to shore up the ceasefire.

The UN Security Council on February 24 demanded a 30-day cessation of hostilities but the resolution has done little to bring relief to civilians.

Dozens of people, including many children, were treated overnight for breathing problems and symptoms that medics said were consistent with chlorine attacks, which Western powers have repeatedly warned would not go unpunished.

United Nations human rights chief Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein said the Syrian regime and its foreign allies were already planning their next "apocalypse".

"Washington does nothing to tame militants under its control in eastern Ghouta", the ministry said in a statement.

"Next month or the month after, it will be somewhere else where people face an apocalypse - an apocalypse intended, planned and executed by individuals within the government, apparently with the full backing of some of their foreign supporters".

Eastern Ghouta has been besieged since 2013, making food, medicine, and other daily goods exceedingly hard to access.

On Monday, 46 trucks of assistance entered the area in the first aid provision since a new offensive against the enclave began on 18 February - but they had to cut their deliveries short and leave due to heavy bombardment. United Nations officials had said lack of approvals and consensus among the warring parties, as well as the limited duration of a daily, five-hour Russian-ordered humanitarian pause, had made aid delivery impossible.

He said during the meeting, the Council members expressed concern over the humanitarian situation in Syria. Reports also came in of civilians fleeing these towns to head to Douma, the last big town holding out against the government.

No Syrian civilians are known to have used the "corridor".

This has been a major problem, with civilians being killed in a disturbingly large number for no real military goal, and much of the population fleeing inward into the remaining rebel territory, fearing what will come next.

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