Syria forces launch assault on rebel-held Douma

A March 20 picture shows smoke rising in Douma following air raids [Mouneb Abu Taim/ Anadolu Agency]
(Al Jazeera News Online) – Pro-government forces in Syria have launched a ground offensive under the cover of air raids on Douma, the last rebel-held town in Eastern Ghouta.

The push on Friday signalled the collapse of a 10-day ceasefire over a potential deal to evacuate opposition fighters from the besieged enclave on the outskirts of the capital, Damascus.

According to the Syrian Civil Defence, a group of rescuers operating in opposition-held areas in Syria, the air raids killed at least 25 civilians, including women and children.

Syrian government forces said they retaliated after a faction within Jaish al-Islam, the rebel group controlling Douma, shelled a government-held area, killing four people.

‘Biggest’ evacuation sees more than 6,700 people leave Syria’s Ghouta

Jaish al-Islam, the last remaining rebel group in Eastern Ghouta, denies the accusation.

The group had been in Russian-brokered negotiations with the Syrian government for the past several days.

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