Syrian government forces claim 25 percent of Eastern Ghouta

Syrian government forces claim 25 percent of Eastern Ghoutaā€¯

The White House condemned the offensive in eastern Ghouta, saying in a statement Sunday that the Syrian campaign backed by Russian Federation and Iran is killing "innocent civilians under the false auspices of counterterrorism operations".

Government forces need to advance just a few more kilometres further to split the enclave in two, said a commander in the military alliance that backs Assad.

The deadly raids, as well as other strikes and rocket fire elsewhere in Eastern Ghouta Monday, came as the battered enclave awaited a convoy of humanitarian aid from the United Nations.

"The majority (of people) in Eastern Ghouta want to escape the embrace of terrorism".

Gunfire was audible during a broadcast by a Syrian state television journalist from a position he said had been captured by the advancing forces. Fighting has intensified in Beit Sawa between government forces and the Islamist faction Jaysh al-Islam.

Abu Mohammad Alaya's building is seen damaged in Douma, Syria March 2, 2018.

Assad spoke to a small group of reporters in Damascus on Sunday and said the five-hour daily "humanitarian pause" in eastern Ghouta would continue so that any civilians who wanted to leave could do so.

French President Emmanuel Macron urged his Iranian counterpart Hassan Rouhani to put the "necessary pressure" on Assad to halt the "indiscriminate" attacks on civilians in the rebel-held areas.

A statement released on Sunday said the offensive is killing "innocent civilians under the false auspices of counterterrorism operations".

The US has condemned the government assault and said Russian Federation, a key ally of Damascus, is killing innocent civilians.

The regime's capture of that city marked a turning point in the war, with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad taking back control of all four major cities in the country - with the help of Russian Federation.

Government forces seized a number of districts including Al-Nashabiyeh and Otaya and had "eradicated terrorist groups" on the eastern outskirts of Damascus, state media quoted a military source as saying.

Rami Abdel Rahman, head of the Syrian Observatory, said at least 12 regime fighters had been killed in two areas, Al-Rihan and Shifoniya, in overnight clashes with the Jaish al-Islam rebel group.

Four major rebel groups are now positioned inside Eastern Ghouta, namely the Islam Army, Failaq al-Rahman, Ahrar al-Sham and the LLC. The rebels said the humanitarian corridor is part of government efforts to forcibly displace the population.

OCHA said the aid would be taken in to Eastern Ghouta by the United Nations and its partners, after they "received approval to deliver assistance for 70,000 people in need in the besieged enclave".

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