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Five-day assault on Syria’s Eastern Ghouta kills more than 400 civilians

Eastern Ghouta

Douma: More than 400 people have been killed in Eastern Ghouta, a monitoring group said, on the fifth day of the continuing onslaught of aerial bombardment by Syrian government forces backed by Russian warplanes.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said at least 403 people were killed in the “hysterical attack” that began on Sunday, including 150 children. Almost 2,120 others were wounded.

UN special envoy for Syria, Staffan de Mistura, stressed the urgent need for a ceasefire in comments made ahead of Thursday’s UN Security Council meeting.

“The humanitarian situation in Eastern Ghouta is appalling and, therefore, we need a ceasefire that stops both the horrific heavy bombardment of Eastern Ghouta and the indiscriminate mortar shelling on Damascus,” he said.

He added the ceasefire needs to be followed by immediate unhindered humanitarian access and a facilitated evacuation of wounded people out of Eastern Ghouta, and warned against this being a repeat of Aleppo.

Residents of Eastern Ghouta, a majority of whom are internally displaced, say there is nothing they can do and nowhere to hide.

The opposition-controlled Eastern Ghouta, a mostly rural area on the outskirts of the capital Damascus, has been under government siege since 2013. About 400,000 Syrians live there. The siege has resulted in a huge inflation of basic foodstuffs with a bag of bread costing the equivalent of $5.

Malnutrition rates have reached unprecedented levels, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, with 11.9 percent of children under the age of five acutely malnourished.

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