HAMMURIYEH: Aid agencies postponed a convoy of vital food and health supplies to Eastern Ghouta on Thursday, as the Syrian regime pressed a relentless ground and air assault against the rebel enclave, reports AFP.
Dozens of people, including many children, were treated overnight for breathing problems and symptoms that medics said were consistent with chlorine attacks, which Western powers have repeatedly warned would not go unpunished.
New air strikes on the town of Zamalka killed at least seven civilians, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, bringing the total number of dead in the offensive to more than 900.
The aid trucks were meant to bring relief to war-weary civilians living under government siege for five years and now facing a deadly Russian-backed assault.
The fighting has prompted international outrage, culminating in the UN Security Council demanding an immediate ceasefire, aid deliveries and evacuations.
But with bombardment continuing, a joint convoy between the United Nations, International Committee of the Red Cross and Syrian Arab Red Crescent planned for Thursday could not go through.
“The convoy for today is postponed, as the situation is evolving on the ground, which doesn’t allow us to carry out the operation in such conditions,” ICRC spokeswoman Ingy Sedky told AFP.
It marks the second time this week that aid operations have been disrupted by military developments, with food deliveries cut short Monday due to bombardment.
Ghouta is home to around 400,000 people under siege and is the last opposition-controlled zone on the capital’s outskirts.
The Syrian army and allied militias began a fierce bombing campaign on February 18 against Ghouta, followed by a ground offensive.
The campaign has so far recaptured half of rebel-held territory, according to the Observatory, a Britain-based monitor.
Towns and villages have fallen in quick succession in recent days, with regime forces on the verge of cutting the remaining rebel-held territory into two isolated pockets.
AFP’s correspondent in the town of Hammuriyeh saw motionless bodies lying in the streets on Thursday after a night of ferocious bombing..