Syria's war: Offensives on Afrin and Ghouta continue

Turkish troops reunite in Afrin's north

Turkish troops reunite in Afrin's north

Eastern Ghouta had been the main rebel bastion on the outskirts of Damascus since 2012 and came under a devastating regime siege the following year.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights put it at 20,000 so far. Almost 20,000 civilians fled the town and surrounding areas in the first mass exodus since the Ghouta offensive began a month ago.

Syrian official news agency SANA released this picture of Syrian civilians holding bags of belongings as they flee fighting.

TRT World's Arabella Munro has more.

"As you know, any trip to Syria is formally discouraged and those French journalists still present in the country are invited to leave immediately", she said. He added that large numbers of people have now been squeezed into the small areas held by rebels in eastern Ghouta.

Linda Tom, a spokeswoman for the United Nations humanitarian affairs office (OCHA) in Syria, added: "Today, hundreds of people in eastern Ghouta reportedly continued to leave". Under cover of allied Russian air power, Syrian government forces have been on a crushing offensive for three weeks on eastern Ghouta.

A new wave of people fled a rebel pocket to army lines in eastern Ghouta near the capital Damascus, as rescuers and a monitor said air strikes pounded the besieged zone.

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A Reuters witness and state-run media separately said thousands were leaving. Soldiers were seen in the footage, but there were no signs of local or global aid groups.

Al-Ikhbariyah quoted an unnamed military official as saying 30,000 people left eastern Ghouta on Saturday alone. Gen. Vladimir Zolotukhin, the spokesman for the Russian Defense Ministry's Reconciliation Center for Syria, said.

Meanwhile, thousands have also fled Afrin in northern Syria as Turkey ramps up its offensive against the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG).

The military tweeted aerial footage and photographs of the town's general hospital it said were from Saturday morning, showing it was intact. The Observatory said 16 people were killed in the hospital including two pregnant women. Turkey's military has pushed the YPG militia back from the border and advanced on the western and eastern flanks of Afrin town itself.

According to Turkey's state-run Anadolu agency, Turkish forces said Tuesday they had encircled the city of Afrin. Hevi Mustafa, a senior member of the civil authority that governs Afrin, said people fled the main town to other Kurdish-held parts of the region and to government territory.

"Afrin is being exterminated and destroyed".

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