Published: Mon, March 12, 2018
People | By Neil Grant

Syria finds chemical weapons workshop in Ghouta

Syria finds chemical weapons workshop in Ghouta

The official pointed out that the situation in Eastern Ghouta remained tense with militants having shelled Damascus from Eastern Ghouta with seven 120-mm shells.

Mattis also criticised the Russian government's support for the Syrian regime and accused Moscow of being involved in chemical attacks on civilians in Syria.

Turkey's Hurriyet newspaper also reported that civilians were leaving the town of Afrin, heading to government-controlled areas and the town of Manbij, held by the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces.

Mr Guterres said the United Nations had offered to facilitate talks between the Syrian government, Russian officials and representatives of the three main rebel groups in the Eastern Ghouta - Jaysh al-Islam, Faylaq al-Rahman and Ahrar al-Sham.

Hundreds of people have been killed in the Syrian army's fierce air and artillery bombardment of eastern Ghouta since February 18 as President Bashar al-Assad's government seeks to crush the last major rebel stronghold near the capital Damascus.

US Defense Secretary James Mattis on Sunday warned Syria against using chemical weapons, implying it would prompt military consequences, as it did a year ago when President Donald Trump ordered a strike on a Syrian air base.

"Again, either Russian Federation is incompetent or in cahoots with Assad", he said.

Syrians walk past destroyed buildings in the rebel-held town of Hamouria in the besieged Eastern Ghouta region on the outskirts of the capital Damascus
Syria finds chemical weapons workshop in Ghouta

A small portion of the insurgents has agreed to such a deal. Russian Federation and Damascus say a ceasefire ordered by the U.N. Security Council does not protect the fighters in eastern Ghouta, arguing that they are members of banned terrorist groups.

Last week, a United Nations commission of inquiry released a report accusing the Assad regime of committing war crimes in Eastern Ghouta, including the use of chemical weapons against civilians, causing mass starvation and forcibly preventing medical evacuations.

It said existing basement bomb shelters were so overcrowded that some families were being forced to sleep out in the open, and that at least 70 people had been buried in a park because air strikes made it unsafe to reach the town's cemetery.

As the differences lingered, regime forces have splintered eastern Ghouta towns and villages into three isolated pockets.

Evacuations have taken place in other parts of Syria, where fighters and civilians have withdrawn to rebel territory near the Turkish border. Douma is eastern Ghouta's largest settlement.

It communicated with Russian Federation through the United Nations to reach the agreement, it said.

Reports on Sunday alleged that dozens of civilians had managed to flee Eastern Ghouta through a humanitarian corridor.

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