Russian airstrikes on Syria's Eastern Ghouta kill 57, monitor says

BEIRUT, Weedah Hamzah (dpa)- Russian airstrikes on the southern part of Syria's Eastern Ghouta region left 57 civilians dead and 100 injured on Friday, a monitoring group said.
"The Russian planes hit the town of Kfar Batna and Sabqa [and] 46 died in Kfar Batna and 11 in Sabqa," the head of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, Rami Abdel Rahman, told dpa.
He added that the planes used thermite bombs, which caused major fires and resulted in burns for the victims.

According to the Observatory, some 100 people were wounded and suffered serious burns in Kfar Batna.
Eastern Ghouta, located on the outskirts of Damascus, has been one of the few remaining areas in Syria under rebel control. Rebels have been losing ground since the government began its latest offensive against the area in mid February.
Activist Abu Ahed, speaking to dpa from the area, said people were encouraged by a morning lull, so they ventured from their shelters. But, soon after, planes fired four rockets targeting a market.
Abu Ahed put the death toll at 50, and said that 10 were burned beyond recognition.
"We could see flames throughout the market and people who caught fire running and screaming," the activist said via a WhatsApp call.
The strikes came after Syrian rebels gained ground they lost a day before in Eastern Ghouta.
Rebels from Faylaq al-Rahman launched a counter-attack on government forces in the rebel-held region near Damascus overnight to capture most of the territories they lost in Eastern Ghouta's southern town of Hamouriyeh, Abdel Rahman said.
Rebels from the group posted pictures of areas they recaptured.
The Observatory said at least some 500 people managed to leave Hamouriyeh and flee towards the government-controlled areas in the early hours of Friday.
Government forces attacks prompted the exodus of some 20,000 civilians on Thursday from Hamouriyeh, to displacement centres at the outskirts of the Syrian capital.
The mass movement was described by the Observatory as the largest exodus from the region since it fell under the government siege in 2013.
Almost 2,000 people have been killed in Eastern Ghouta due to violence in the past four months, the Observatory has estimated.

Friday, March 16th 2018
Weedah Hamzah

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