Feb. 20 (UPI) — Dozens of people died in the Syrian enclave of Eastern Ghouta on Monday in air and ground attacks carried out by Syrian government forces, local officials said.
At least 58 people died and 45 more sustained injuries in attacks on the towns of Hammuriya, Saqba, Jisrin, Beit Sawa, Kafr Batna and Zamalka Turkey’s Anadolu Agency reported, citing local civil defense sources.
The Eastern Ghouta area near the Syrian capital of Damascus has been under siege since 2012.
Syrian government forces began the bombardment on Sunday in advance of a planned ground operation to recapture the opposition-held area.
“The heavy shelling targeted mainly all residential areas in Eastern Ghouta,” Rami Abdel Rahman, Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.
Eastern Ghouta is part of a network of de-escalation zones endorsed by Turkey, Russia and Iran, where acts of aggression are prohibited.
Despite the agreement, 539 people have been killed and 2,000 more have been injured since Dec. 29.
An international aid convoy successfully delivered food and medical supplies to Eastern Ghouta for the first time in 2018 on Wednesday, but U.N. Syrian special envoy Staffan de Mistura told the U.N. Security Council the aid would benefit less than 2 percent of the population.
European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini and European Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management Christos Stylianides issued a joint statement calling for unhindered humanitarian access to civilians and protection of civilians and infrastructure in Syria.
“The international community should unite to stop this human suffering,” the statement said.