Assad Regime, Russian Airstrikes Kills 61 Civilians in Syria

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People gather to be transferred from a temporary shelter in the Housh Nasri area, east of Damascus, capital of Syria, to better shelters near Damascus, on March 16, 2018.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said at least 12,500 people left towards government territory. As the Turkey-backed Free Syrian Army (FSA) forces are getting closer to the district centre, the civilians in Afrin began to flee the town. Rescuers and a monitor said air strikes pounded the besieged zone.

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Thousands of civilians leave rebels-held Eastern Ghouta with only the possessions they can carry. "We do not agree (with them)", said presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov in response to a United States briefing saying that Russian Federation was responsible for the attacks.

The people left Hammouriyeh, which government forces advanced into on Thursday, and other towns nearby, said Rami Abdulrahman, director of the UK-based monitor. Almost 20,000 civilians fled the town and surrounding areas in the first mass exodus since the Ghouta offensive began a month ago.

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Bombs hit a market in the town of Kafar Batna, within rebel-held Eastern Ghouta. "The situation is tragic for the people inside", she said. There was no immediate comment from Damascus, which says it only targets armed militants. Under cover of allied Russian air power, Syrian government forces have been on a crushing offencive for three weeks on eastern Ghouta. They have accused the factions of preventing residents from leaving, which the fighters deny. "This is just a little of what these families need", said the International Committee of the Red Cross, which delivered the aid alongside the Syrian Arab Red Crescent and the UN.

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