At least 62 civilians killed on Wednesday


UPDATE 1845 GMT: The international medical organization Médecins Sans Frontières‎ summarizes the toll in East Ghouta:

In the two weeks between the evening of 18 February to the evening of 3 March 2018, the medical data reveals 4,829 wounded and 1,005 dead – or 344 wounded and 71 dead per day.

This data is collected from 10 medical facilities to which MSF provides a full package of support, and a further 10 facilities to which MSF has been providing emergency medical donations from its remaining medical stocks inside the East Ghouta enclave. Two of these facilities have yet to submit data for 3 March, so this is an underestimate. There are many other medical facilities in East Ghouta that are not supported by MSF, sothe overall toll is significantly higher.

Of the 20 medical facilities, 15 have been hit by bombing or shelling. Four medics have been killed and 20 wounded.

The father of 3-year-old Maria Juma carries her to her final resting place after she was killed in pro-Assad night raids on Saqba.


UPDATE 1600 GMT: White Helmets rescuers relax after working a 20-hour shift on Wednesday amid intense pro-Assad attacks:


UPDATE 0830 GMT: The Red Cross says a convoy scheduled to deliver aid to East Ghouta has been has been postponed because of the pro-Assad attacks.

Spokeswoman Ingy Sedky said, “No confirmation yet on when it will take place….The situation is evolving rapidly on the ground, which doesn’t allow us to carry out the operation in such conditions.”

The mass killing of civilians in East Ghouta, near Syria’s capital Damascus, continued on Wednesday as pro-Assad forces try to split the remaining opposition territory.

Activists, including the Syrian Network for Human Rights, said at least 62 people were slain as bombing across East Ghouta tried to enable further ground advances or force surrenders. Pro-Assad outlets said another 700 troops have been moved to the front.

The activists estimate that at least 867 civilians have perished since February 1, with thousands more wounded and thousands driven from their homes in the area of more than 350,000 people.

Yesterday’s strikes include an attack on another medical facility, this time in Kafr Batna. At least 15 medical facilities have reportedly been struck across East Ghouta in the past five weeks.

Three White Helmets rescuers were among Wednesday’s fatalities. (Another White Helmet was killed by pro-Assad bombing of northern Hama Province.)

The Violations Documentations Center, which has recorded 944 “battle-related” deaths, reports:

Despite the assault, and after days of talks, the town of Misraba has still not capitulated, and the regime and Russia renewed bombing of Hamouriya, indicating that a proposed agreement had fallen through.

“The factions of Ghouta and their fighters and its people are holding onto their land and will defend it,” Hamza Birqdar of the rebel faction Jaish al-Islam said.

Enabled by the Russian as well as regime bombardment that has devastated East Ghouta, pro-Assad forces have taken more than one-third of the area, including much of the farmland and some towns and villages.

The UN Security Council called again on Wednesday for its February 24 resolution for 30-day ceasefire to be implemented, but there was no sign that Russia would agree to end the attacks and the five-year siege.

Moscow has announced a token five-hour daily “humanitarian pause” and a non-existent “evacuation corridor” to cover the pro-Assad assault. A UN aid convoy reached Douma on Monday, but had 70% of its medical supplies stripped by regime forces and then could only deliver half of its food because of pro-Assad shelling.

Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said on Wednesday that Russia’s bombing will continue:

Russia does not view Damascus’ counterterrorism operation as contravening the provisions of UN Security Council Resolution 2401 passed recently and supports the fight against terrorists in Eastern Ghouta by the actions of its Aerospace Forces.

Bashar al-Assad’s senior advisor Bouthaina Shaaban insisted that the reports of mass killing, chemical attacks, and blocking of humanitarian aid were the product of a “state of confusion“.

Children appeal for international intervention, “We are suffering and facing death every minute”:

Britain’s Channel 4 reports from an East Ghouta hospital:

Reports: Turkish-Rebel Offensive Captures 2nd-Largest Town in Afrin Canton

Reports and photographs indicate that the Turkish-rebel offensive has taken control of the center of Jinderes, the second-largest town in the Kurdish canton of Afrin in northwest Syria.

The ground offensive, launched on January 20, has surrounded Jinderes for weeks. The Turkish military said on Wednesday that operations to move into the center had begun.

The Turkish-rebel advance has secured all of northwest Syria along the border and moved to 12 km (7.5 miles) from Afrin city.