Syrian civil war: Scores of civilians killed by Assad’s airstrikes
Syrian President Bashar Assad’s forces killed at least 98 people, including 20 children, in one of the deadliest days of bombings in the opposition-held area of Eastern Ghouta in three years, an activist group said Tuesday.
The shelling and airstrikes reportedly took place on Monday.
While the deaths could not be independently verified by USA TODAY, Syrian Civil Defense, a civilian-led emergency response group known as White Helmets, said some people are still trapped under the rubble. It said hundreds have been wounded in a week-long bombardment.
Since Sunday, 194 people — 52 children and 29 women — have been killed in regime bombings, according to the U.K.-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. It marks one of the deadliest periods for civilian deaths since the start of the Syrian civil war in 2011.
Eastern Ghouta is the last main rebel stronghold near Syria’s capital Damascus in the country’s multi-sided, 7-year-old civil war. The conflict has pitted Assad’s government and its allies — including Iran and Russia — against a coalition of opposition Arab fighters that include Sunni Muslims, Kurds and other Syrian minority groups.
The United States backs some of the Arab fighters in its battle against the Islamic State and other extremists.
The United Nations says hundreds of children are in need of urgent medical evacuation from Eastern Ghouta, where basic health services have crumbled under a siege by Assad forces. In the first month of this year, nearly 60 children were killed across Syria in violence in Eastern Ghouta and other rebel-held enclaves, according to the United Nations. The last U.N. aid convoy to reach Eastern Ghouta was in November.
About half a million people have been killed in Syria’s civil war, according to estimates by the U.N. and human rights organizations. Six million people have been displaced internally in Syria, a further 5 million have sought refuge abroad.