Regime forces kill 16 in Syria's Eastern Ghouta, Idlib


At least 17 civilians were killed on Saturday in regime and Russian airstrikes on the rebel-held enclave of Eastern Ghouta the capital Damascus, said the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

State television said "army units had launched an assault to break the siege" of the Armoured Vehicle Base where some 250 soldiers are believed to be cut off.

The Syrian state media reported an operation in Eastern Ghouta was ongoing meant to break the siege of a military site nearby, though it's not clear if the airstrikes were related.

Two civilians were killed in the city of Madira, and three others in Erbine, according to the Observatory.

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"We are in peace today", a witness from the Eastern Ghouta village of Douma told Reuters on a messaging site.

The Observatory reported more than 40 airstrikes on the suburbs known as eastern Ghouta.

Nine women and two children were among the 18 people killed, it said, adding that the number might rise because some of the injured were in a critical condition.

The area, which has been under siege by regime forces since December 2012, falls within a network of de-escalation zones - set up in Syria by Turkey, Russia, and Iran - in which acts of aggression are officially forbidden.

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The deal excludes Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, but other larger rebel groups in eastern Ghouta are part of it.

There was no immediate confirmation by the Russian military, which is providing air support to government forces fighting rebels.

Meanwhile, Russia's defense ministry on Thursday said two servicemen were killed in a New Year's Eve mortar attack by Islamist militants on its Hmeimim airbase in Latakia province, but denied media reports seven military planes were destroyed.

The Syria Civil Defence said two children and two women were among the six people killed in the air strikes on Arbin, and that another three civilians were killed by government shellfire in Beit Sawa.

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