Aid convoy to Damascus rebel-held suburb postponed

Syrian children are seen after receiving medical treatment at the field hospital after a suspected alleged chlorine gas attack in Hamouriyah

Syrian children are seen after receiving medical treatment at the field hospital after a suspected alleged chlorine gas attack in Hamouriyah

Syrian state media says government forces have advanced against rebels in the eastern Ghouta suburbs of Damascus and will try to divide the besieged enclave in two.

"At least we want to see a facilitation letter signed for another convoy for Eastern Ghouta as soon as possible, preferably tomorrow (Thursday)". Hundreds have been killed in the past two weeks, including dozens of fatalities reported on Wednesday.

Doctors and residents reported intense shelling and cases of suffocation and difficulty breathing, accusing the government of using chlorine gas Wednesday night.

Guterres urged all parties on Tuesday to implement the cease-fire and expressed serious concern at attacks throughout the besieged Damascus suburbs of eastern Ghouta as well as reported shelling of the capital, United Nations spokesman Stephane Dujarric said.

Such reports, which have been recurrent in the past weeks, could not be independently confirmed.

Earlier on Wednesday, the state-affiliated al-Ikhbariya TV station broadcast live shots from the region, showing dense columns of smoke rising above the town as explosions and rockets could be heard flying overhead.

In attacks since Wednesday morning, ground attacks and airstrike targeted Eastern Ghouta's Douma and Haresta districts and the Sakba, Ayn Terma, Arbin, Hammuriyah, Beit Sawa, Jisrin, Misraba and Kafr Batna regions.

The Syrian army is poised to slice rebel-held eastern Ghouta in two as forces advancing from the east link up with troops at the enclave's western edge, a pro-Damascus military commander says.

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Civilians have been fleeing frontline areas into Douma and hiding in cellars, with aid workers saying many children had told them they had not seen daylight in 20 days.

The U.N. human rights chief has denounced as "frankly ridiculous" claims by Syria's government that it's doing all it can to protect civilians as its forces lead "indiscriminate, brutal attacks" in eastern Ghouta.

"When you are prepared to kill your own people, lying is easy too".

The Observatory said that at least 867 civilians have been killed by government bombing and shelling in this offensive, with at least 62 killed on Wednesday.

The government, backed in the war by Russian Federation and Iran, is seeking to crush the last major rebel enclave near Damascus in a ferocious campaign that the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says has killed 893 civilians in the last 18 days, including 91 on Wednesday.

United Nations peace envoy Staffan de Mistura briefed the meeting and offered to help broker a deal with Russian Federation to allow fighters in Eastern Ghouta to leave, a diplomat said.

The offensive has displaced more than 10,000 people in Eastern Ghouta, according to the Observatory. Rebels said no such offer had been communicated with them, and they would reject it in any case.

The UN Security Council on February 24 demanded a 30-day cessation of hostilities across the country, but the resolution has done little to bring relief to civilians. An aid convoy reached the area on the outskirts of Damascus on Monday, but could not fully unload and government official stripped out most medical supplies.

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