Medical Cases to Be Evacuated from Ghouta as Regime Continues Bombardment

Medical Cases to Be Evacuated from Ghouta as Regime Continues Bombardment

Tuesday, 13 March, 2018 - 10:45
A general view shows several destroyed buildings in Douma, in Eastern Ghouta. (AFP)
Asharq Al-Awsat
People in need of medical care will be evacuated from the Eastern Ghouta, revealed multiple sources on Tuesday, as the Syrian regime continued its air strikes against the rebel-held enclave.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights announced that four people were killed and 22 wounded in renewed bombardment of the area.

The attacks targeted the towns of Kfarnabta, Jisreen and Saqba.

Meanwhile, the Red Crescent is prepared to evacuate people in desperate need of medical care from Eastern Ghouta.

The rebel faction controlling Eastern Ghouta's main town of Douma and a military source said patients would be evacuated on Tuesday.

"A group of critical medical cases will be evacuated with those accompanying them via the Wafideeen" checkpoint into regime-held territory, the head of Jaish al-Islam's political office, Yasser Delwan, said.

On Monday, the group announced an agreement "via the United Nations with Russia... for the evacuation of the wounded in several waves to be treated outside Ghouta".

At the Wafideen checkpoint, an AFP reporter saw Syrian Arab Red Crescent ambulances on standby. The reporter saw the UN humanitarian coordinator in Syria, Ali al-Zaatari, arrive.

Women carrying small children, men hobbling on crutches and an old man in a wheelchair were shown walking among a group of Syrian soldiers near the al-Wafideen crossing point

A military source at the checkpoint confirmed "an evacuation today of wounded and grave medical cases along with a number of civilians".

But "no fighters will leave today", he added, without elaborating.

On Monday, the United Nations said more than 1,000 people, mostly women and children, were in urgent need of medical evacuations from Eastern Ghouta.

It said they included around 80 priority cases.

More than 1,180 civilians have been killed since regime forces launched an air and ground assault on the enclave on February 18, according to the Observatory.

Eastern Ghouta's 400,000 residents have been living under regime siege since 2013, facing severe shortages of food and medicines shortages even before the latest assault.

Later on Tuesday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said it was important to prevent a violation of ceasefire agreements in Eastern Ghouta, a situation which he planned to discuss with Turkish foreign minister Mevlut Cavusoglu who is on a visit to Moscow.

The Security Council demanded a 30-day ceasefire across Syria in a unanimously adopted February 24 resolution.

Russia and Damascus say a ceasefire ordered by the UN Security Council does not protect the fighters in Eastern Ghouta, arguing that they are members of banned terrorist groups.

"There has been no cessation of hostilities," UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said on Monday. "Violence continues in Eastern Ghouta and beyond - including in Afrin, parts of Idlib and into Damascus and its suburbs."

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