Russian, US airstrikes caused mass deaths in Syria, UN says

Media playback is unsupported on your device                  Media caption Footage shows the aid convoy reaching

The Syrian army and allied militia launched an offensive on 18 February to retake Eastern Ghouta, the last rebel-controlled region near the capital Damascus, and army spokespeople have warned that rebel control of the area will soon end.

Airstrikes by Russian Federation and a US -led coalition killed civilians in Syria on a large scale a year ago, while the Assad government carried out unlawful chemical weapon attacks in rebel-held Eastern Ghouta, U.N. war crimes investigators said Tuesday.

Claims from President Bashar al Assad that his forces are doing all it can to protect civilians in the two-week-old offensive on eastern Ghouta are "frankly ridiculous", human rights chief Zeid Ra'ad al-Hussein said on Wednesday.

Earlier in the day, Syria's official SANA news agency said buses have been waiting near the safe corridor to transport the people leaving Eastern Ghouta to a housing center set up by the government, but no civilians have so far managed to get out.

Russia's military announced Monday it was offering safe passage for rebels and their families out of eastern Ghouta, where some 400,000 people have been trapped under a relentless government campaign of shelling and airstrikes.

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The UN's refugee agency UNHCR said the convoy was in the town of Douma for almost nine hours before it cut short its mission.

The Syrian American Medical Society charity, which supports hospitals in eastern Ghouta, said 79 people were killed in shelling and airstrikes, as the government, supported by Russia's military, pushed its assault on the rebel-held suburbs, where the United Nations estimates that close to 400,000 people are trapped under unmanageable levels of violence.

While the region is technically covered by a 2017 de-escalation deal, the government says it is targeting al-Qaeda-linked factions in the area not covered by the agreement.

"But the children of Douma and the children of eastern Ghouta unfortunately do, and that's what makes the situation very, very dramatic", he said.

Russian Federation has called for five-hour daily ceasefires each day in eastern Ghouta since early last week, but the Syrian government offensive to recapture the enclave has continued.

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Syrian Kurdish media say at least 13 civilians were killed in Turkish shelling on the town of Jindaris, as Turkish forces try to press their advances on the Kurdish-held Afrin enclave in northwest Syria.

The United Nations resident and humanitarian coordinator in Syria. The air and ground assault, supposedly aimed at a few militants in Eastern Ghouta, continued while the convoy moved through rubbled streets.

Aksoy said the camps would host a total of 170,000 people.

International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) convoy seen crossing into eastern Ghouta near Wafideen camp in Damascus, March 5, 2018.

Iyad Abdelaziz, a member of the Douma Local Council, says nine aid trucks had to leave the area after government shelling and airstrikes intensified in the evening.

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And three US -led coalition strikes on a school near Raqqa in March 2017 killed 150 residents - roughly five times the toll acknowledged by the Pentagon, which said at the time that dozens of militants and not civilians were killed.

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