Amid lull, Red Cross delivers aid to Syria's Ghouta

Syrian forces attacking eastern Ghouta 'have surrounded rebels in Douma'

"They want out - either the bombing to stop, or to get out".

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and Russian Federation, his main ally, say the campaign is needed to end rebel shelling of Damascus and to end the rule of Islamist insurgents over the area's civilians.

Takfiri groups in eastern Ghouta deny this, but eyewitnesses on Friday saw gunfire and mortar fire from inside the rebel territory near one of the crossing points. "So Ghouta will gain by finishing with these people".

At least 976 civilians, including 208 children, have been killed in Eastern Ghouta since February 18, when al-Assad's forces started a major offensive against rebel-held areas there, according to the Observatory.

A second convoy with desperately needed aid for the besieged rebel-held eastern suburbs of Damascus was postponed on Thursday because of the violence and a rapidly evolving situation on the ground, the International Committee of the Red Cross said.

Last April, the USA struck a military base in central Syria with more than 50 Tomahawk missiles, in retaliation to an alleged chemical attack by Syrian government forces on a rebel-held town in the northwestern province of Idlib.

Shelling and air strikes slammed into Douma on Saturday, trapping residents inside their basements for hours, AFP's correspondents in the town said.

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However, U.N. agencies said most medical supplies had been stripped from the convoy by Syrian government officials and added that the food supplies brought in were insufficient.

There were no medical supplies on board Friday's convoy, which was carrying food that aid workers were unable to distribute on Monday.

The military has been accused of targeting civilians, but it says it is trying to liberate the region - one of the last rebel strongholds - from those it terms terrorists.

The government says its forces now control half the enclave. Government forces will now advance along other fronts, it said.

Syria's war, which enters its eight-year next week, has killed more than 340,000 people since it erupted in 2011 with the brutal repression of anti-government protests.

In January, Turkey began an offensive to oust the Kurdish YPG militia from the Afrin region in northern Syria, near the Turkish border.

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