Sun, Apr 08, 2018 - Page 4 News List

Douma bombing resumes in renewed regime push

AFP, BEIRUT

A wounded man yesterday arrives at a hospital in Damascus, Syria, after rockets fired from Douma killed at least four civilians in various neighborhoods across the capital.

Photo: AFP

Fresh airstrikes yesterday pounded the rebel-held Syrian town of Douma, rescuers and a monitor said, after a night of heavy bombing on the opposition holdout outside Damascus.

“The bombing still hasn’t stopped. There are three warplanes in the sky and two helicopters,” Douma-based rescue worker Firas al-Doumi told reporters in the morning.

Douma is the last rebel-controlled town in Syria’s Eastern Ghouta area, a sprawling suburb of Damascus that was once the opposition’s bastion on the edge of the capital. Backed by Russia, Syrian troops have recaptured 95 percent of Ghouta through a fierce air and ground assault, as well as negotiated withdrawals.

In an apparent bid to pressure Jaish al-Islam — the Muslim militant group that holds the town — to withdraw, the Syrian government on Friday resumed bombardment of the town after a lull of more than a week.

Airstrikes and shelling on Friday left 40 civilians dead, including eight children, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitoring group said.

Warplanes were hitting across Douma yesterday, as Syrian Army artillery fire hit neighboring agricultural fields, the Britain-based group said.

Syrian troops on Friday matched the renewed bombardment with a ground operation in the orchards surrounding Douma.

“The regime is trying to tighten the noose around Douma from the west, east and south,” group head Rami Abdel Rahman said.

The resumed assault comes after the apparent failure of negotiations between Jaish al-Islam and Russia over a rebel withdrawal from Douma.

Jaish al-Islam political leader Mohammad Alloush on Friday blamed international supporters of the Syrian government for hamstringing the talks.

“The talks were going well,” he said, adding that power struggles between the government’s allies had caused them to break down.

“Their only shared interest is the blood of civilians,” he wrote on Twitter.

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