Assad regime said to cut off largest town in rebel-held Ghouta

Syria war: Jaish al-Islam to evacuate n of Eastern Ghouta fighters

Humanitarian Aid Reaches the Syrian Region of East Ghouta

Hassan lives in Douma in the rebel stronghold of eastern Ghouta, now under siege from the Syrian army.

The Syrian army has effectively put two big towns in Eastern Ghouta under siege by advancing into the area linking them to each other and to the rest of the rebel enclave, a war monitor says.

Last Friday, the United Nations had managed to deliver aid to the region after a number of unsuccessful attempts that were halted by shelling.

Almost 950 civilians have been killed since Russia-backed government forces launched a blistering assault on the last opposition bastion near Damascus on February 18.

In a statement published on Twitter on Friday, the group said the decision had been made in consultation with the United Nations, a number of worldwide parties and civil society representatives from eastern Ghouta.

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Also Saturday, the Syrian forces captured the town of Mesraba, a strategic area in the central part of Eastern Ghouta, which enables the Syrian army to tighten its recent move of splitting Eastern Ghouta in half as it links several towns and areas in Eastern Ghouta with one another.

In a statement, Jaish al-Islam said the imprisoned fighters would be sent to a rebel-held area in northwest Syria.

Syria's deputy foreign minister Faisal Mekdad denied in a news conference held in Damascus opposition charges that government forces used poison gas in their attacks on eastern Ghouta.

It said the initiative was "based on consultations between Jaish al-Islam and the United Nations, and a number of worldwide actors".

According to the report, the government of Syrian President Bashar Assad is responsible for the use of sarin in the Khan Sheikhoun incident, while Daesh* is responsible for the use of sulfur mustard in Umm Hawsh.

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Numerous rounds of UN-backed peace talks have failed to bring an end to the conflict, and a nationwide ceasefire called for by the UN Security Council last month has not been implemented.

Hundreds of thousands of residents are still thought to live in the Eastern Ghouta, seven years into the civil war.

Early Friday, the air strikes stopped briefly, with the area seeing its calmest night in more than a week, according to the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitoring group.

In January, Turkey began an offensive to oust the Kurdish YPG militia from the Afrin region in northern Syria, near the Turkish border.

To keep bombing, Mr. Adel said, "the Russians don't need any excuse".

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Damascus and Moscow accuse the insurgents of shooting at civilians to prevent them fleeing.

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