UPDATE 1310 GMT: More victims are removed from pro-Assad bombardment today:
The number of victims killed in #Jisreen city today increased to 6 civilians including 4 children and two women, and 3 civilians killed in #Saqba city so far. After continuous bombing targeting #EasternGhouta town. pic.twitter.com/yBbWQtdlrd
— The White Helmets (@SyriaCivilDef) March 5, 2018
Civilians have also been killed in Zamalka and al-Ashary.
UPDATE 1300 GMT: Regime forces have removed trauma kits and surgical supplies from a convoy that was planned for East Ghouta, according to a World Health Organization official told Reuters on Monday.
The official said 70% of the supplies were taken: “All trauma [kits], surgical [kits], dialysis sessions, and insulin were rejected by security.”
UN Security Council resolution 2401 explicitly states the necessity for medical and surgical supplies to Eastern Ghouta: https://t.co/OyEPh0hRoS the removal of these from today's convoy = one more war crime committed by Assad's so-called Ministry of Health. pic.twitter.com/GX2qvLIFO0
— Annie Sparrow (@annie_sparrow) March 5, 2018
The UN said on Friday that it had preliminary approval from the Assad regime for the convoy, which would be only the third allowed into the besieged territory since last summer. But on Sunday, officials said the despatch of the convoy had been delayed.
The 46-truck convoy finally reached East Ghouta today but World Food Program spokesperson Marwa Awad, who accompanied the delivery, said, “This assistance is a drop in an ocean of needs.”
The @UN @SYRedCrescent @ICRC are entering #Duma in #EastGhouta with health and nutrition supplies, along with food for 27,500 people in need, many life-saving health supplies were not allowed to be loaded pic.twitter.com/EUyaFyggFM
— OCHA Syria (@OCHA_Syria) March 5, 2018
Another 43 people were killed in Syria’s East Ghouta by pro-Assad attacks on Sunday, as Bashar al-Assad vows to continue the assault which has caused more than 5,000 casualties in the past month and is displacing thousands of others.
More than 30 civilians, including 11 children, were slain in Douma by bombing and shelling. More than 160 were wounded across the area near Syria’s capital Damascus.
Since early February, about 1,000 people have been killed across East Ghouta, and more than 4,000 have been injured.
Direct hit on the civilians and @SyriaCivilDefe volunteers while they were working to evacuate an injured civilian, igniting panic in the hearts of women and children after brutal air raids on residential neighbourhoods in #EastrGouta towns. #SaveGhouta #Syria pic.twitter.com/gE7OGQiW4C
— The White Helmets (@SyriaCivilDef) March 4, 2018
But as regime forces and foreign allies, enabled by Russian airstrikes, claimed more than 20% of the territory in the past week, Assad said there would be no observance of a UN ceasefire and relief in the assault.
“We will continue fighting terrorism…and the Ghouta operation is a continuation of fighting terrorism,” he said to reporters in a televised statement.
More than 350,000 people are in East Ghouta, which is enduring a five-year siege that has been tightened since early 2017. Large parts of towns have been devastated by bombardment, and territory claimed by pro-Assad forces — including the towns of an-Nashabiyah, Hazrama, Otaya, and Shafouniyeh — has been reduced to rubble.
Assad insisted that most people in East Ghouta wanted to return to his rule, but few have stayed behind in the areas occupied by his forces.
The BBC’s Riam Dalati reports that negotiations are underway for the surrender of the town of Misraba. If completed, the capitulation would split the remaining area into two parts.
The southern part of East Ghouta was claimed by pro-Assad forces in spring 2017, but the remaining area, centered around the town of Douma, has held out despite bombardments and the siege which has killed scores of people and left 12% of children severely malnourished.
Children wrapped in UN aid bags, from the only two deliveries allowed by the Assad regime since last summer:
In a Sunday statement, the White House condemned Russian involvement in the pro-Assad assault, citing intelligence that Moscow’s warplanes took off from their Hmaimim airbase in western Syria to carry out at least 20 daily bombing missions on East Ghouta between February 24 and February 28.
“Russia has gone on to ignore [ceasefire] terms and to kill innocent civilians under the false auspices of counter-terrorism operations,” the White House said.