United States Blasts Russia Over Strikes On Syria Rebel

The Human Rights and Alliance of Civilizations Room used by the United Nations Human Rights Council in the Palace of Nations

The Syrian government's offensive in the besieged rebel-held enclave of eastern Ghouta can not be justified by its targeting of a few hundred fighters, United Nations human rights chief Zeid Ra'ad al-Hussein said in a speech on Wednesday.

The relentless attacks prompted France and Britain to request an emergency meeting of the top United Nations body behind closed doors on Wednesday to discuss the ceasefire's failure to take hold.

According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, some 800 civilians, including at least 177 children.

The report comes as Syrian government forces are conducting a separate operation in the village of Masraba in a bid to retake half of densely populated Eastern Ghouta, and deal a humiliating blow to militants there.

More than 340,000 people have been killed and millions driven from their homes in Syria's seven-year war, with no diplomatic solution in sight.

The Syrian army has captured more than a third of the enclave in recent days, threatening to slice it in two. The Swedish ambassador said the council would push for another aid convoy to be allowed to return to Eastern Ghouta on Thursday to deliver food and medicine. "But the children of Douma and the children of eastern Ghouta unfortunately do, and that's what makes the situation very, very dramatic", he said.

Live footage broadcast by Syrian state TV from the outskirts of the town of Mesraba showed enormous clouds of smoke rising into the sky.

A ground assault launched by Syrian forces to penetrate into the enclave has proved unsuccessful thus far, as Syrian troops continue to fight rebels from multiple fronts.

The Syrian American Medical Society charity, which supports several hospitals in eastern Ghouta, gave a slightly lesser death toll from the Observatory, saying 79 people were killed.

Syria permitted a humanitarian aid convoy to enter Eastern Ghouta for the first time on Monday, but the Syrian army confiscated 70 percent of the humanitarian supplies as they entered the region, suggesting that the entire humanitarian aid program is a scam to use Western money to provide supplies to the Syrian army.

Inside eastern Ghouta on Wednesday, AFP correspondents heard warplanes carrying out a barrage of strikes on the battleground towns. If accepted, the offer would mean the fall of the last rebel-held area near Damascus.

On February 23 US President Donald Trump slams the actions of the Syrian government and its Russian and Iranian backers.

The offensive appears to have followed the tactics Assad and his allies have used at other key points in the war: laying siege to rebel-held areas, subjecting them to bombardment, launching a ground assault and offering passage out to civilians who flee and fighters who withdraw. Russian Federation is suggesting they flee the other way, however, offering everyone, including rebels, safe passage out of Ghouta.

Zeid Raaad al-Hussein, head of the United Nations Human Rights Council, warned in his annual report the destruction in Ghouta would simply be repeated elsewhere without any attempts to end the conflict.

Meanwhile, Turkey called on the United States to prevent USA -backed Kurdish forces from sending fighters deployed against the Islamic State group to shore up Kurdish forces battling a Turkish offensive in an enclave in northwest Syria.

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