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Regime seizes two towns from rebels in Syria's Ghouta: Monitor

Regime seizes two towns from rebels in Syria's Ghouta: Monitor

Regime seizes two towns from rebels in Syria's Ghouta: Monitor

Also on Sunday, state TV said the Syrian army had given a group of rebels in another pocket, the smaller Harasta area, an ultimatum to withdraw.

In its month-long assault, the Syrian military has marched into much of eastern Ghouta, the last major insurgent bastion around Damascus.

The majority of the deaths occurred in eastern suburbs of Damascus, known as eastern Ghouta, where government forces have been on a crushing offensive for three weeks capturing 70 percent of the once besieged rebel-held area.

In the northern Afrin region, people fled other frontlines closing in on their homes as Turkish troops and allied rebels struck the main town, Syrian Kurdish forces and the monitor said.

An estimated 12,000-16,000 people had left eastern Ghouta in recent days, while fighting in the Afrin region had reportedly displaced more than 48,000, said Linda Tom, a spokeswoman for the United Nations humanitarian affairs office in Syria.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said more than 30 people were killed in the strikes on the eastern Ghouta's Zamalka town that hit a group of people who were trying to flee into regime-controlled areas.

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The Observatory said Turkish shelling and airstrikes have killed another 27 people in the Kurdish-held town of Afrin in north Syria where Turkish troops and Turkey-backed Syrian opposition fighters have been on the offensive since January 20.

Turkey's military has rejected allegations it bombed a hospital in Afrin in northwestern Syria, where it's engaged in an offensive against Syrian Kurdish fighters. There was no immediate comment from Damascus, which says it only targets armed militants.

The Turkish military has pushed the YPG militia back from the border and almost encircled it with advances on the western and eastern flanks of Afrin town.

Turkey wants to crush the YPG which it views as an extension of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), which has waged an insurgency in Turkey. He said the streets are closed, and "we can't treat some of the cases here".

Othman Sheikh Issa, an official from the town of Afrin, said in a press conference Sunday that the Turkish offensive aims to clear the town of its Kurdish population.

The Observatory said that almost 200,000 people have fled the region of Afrin over the past days and entered government-controlled areas nearby. Residents say they are facing bread, water, and electricity shortages.

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