A delegation from Syria's rebel-held Eastern Ghouta was yesterday considering a partial evacuation deal to halt a fierce government offensive, a negotiator and monitor told AFP.
Government forces have reportedly advanced through the rebel-controlled territory east of the Syrian capital of Damascus and captured the town of Mesraba, which lies between the large towns of Douma and Harasta. A convoy of relief trucks crossed front lines into eastern Ghouta on Friday and unloaded all its food despite the fighting.
In February, Macron had promised "retaliation and an immediate response from France" if the Syrian regime was found guilty of using chemical weapons against civilians, adding it would eventually "be answerable to worldwide justice" for its crimes. "I'm afraid that the more than 5,500 families are facing a potential genocide", added Hassoun. "If we can't act when children are dying, we have no business being here".
The official pointed out that the situation in Eastern Ghouta remained tense with militants having shelled Damascus from Eastern Ghouta with seven 120-mm shells. The TV showed several women carrying babies and welcoming the Syrian army, and claiming the rebels were preventing civilians from leaving eastern Ghouta.
The conflict, which will enter its eighth year on Thursday, is taking a devastating toll on civilians, including in the ongoing regime assault on the rebel enclave of Eastern Ghouta, near Damascus. The cellars were already packed before that.
Across eastern Ghouta heavy aerial strikes continued on the towns of Irbeen, Harasta and other residential areas on Monday, state media said.
According to Hassoun, the situation in Harasta is becoming increasingly hard as hundreds of families are facing one of two options: remaining in their homes and underground refuges as air strikes target them or handing themselves over to government forces.
Dozens of barrel bombs and air strikes have targeted the town since Sunday morning.
At least 70 people had been buried in a town park because air strikes made it unsafe to reach the cemetery on the outskirts, it said.
Civilians and fighters may be bussed to rebel-controlled parts of Daraa province in Syria's south, or to Idlib in the northwest, held by rebels and a former Al-Qaeda affiliate.
Such deals, in which the choice is usually to accept state rule or leave, have helped Assad's military claw back control of major cities, with support from Russian Federation and Iran.
It has confirmed the deaths of 511,000 people, it said, and has the names of more than 350,000 of them. More than 1,000 people have been killed since the large-scale government offensive began on February 18. About 85 percent were killed by government forces and their allies, it said.
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