Scores of civilians killed as airstrikes pound Syria's rebel-held Eastern Ghouta

Glen Norman
February 7, 2018

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan ramped up his verbal assault on the US role in Syria on Tuesday, saying USA forces should leave Manbij, a Syrian city held by YPG-allied forces with support from a US -led anti-Islamic State coalition.

Russia, Assad's main backer, retorted that "no perpetrators have been identified" and accused the United States of orchestrating a "propaganda campaign" against the Syrian government.

"If it is confirmed that the Syrian government has once again used chemical weapons, that would be an abhorrent act and an egregious violation of the moral and legal obligation to avoid the use of chemical weapons", an official with the German foreign ministry said.

"Meanwhile, fighting and retaliatory shelling from all parties are impacting civilians in this region and Damascus, causing scores of deaths and injuries", said their statement, released before the latest casualty tolls emerged on Tuesday.

"As part of agreements on de-escalation zones reached in Astana, Turkish troops have started to construct the fourth observation point in Idlib", the statement said.

That deployment is separate from a Turkish military offensive that Ankara launched last month to rout USA -backed Syrian Kurdish fighters from the northern enclave of Afrin. Aid groups and rescuers said three hospitals had also been struck.

In apparent retaliation for Monday's bombardment, rockets and mortars rained down on government-controlled districts of Damascus, Syria's state news agency SANA reported. Since the most recent Syrian army offensive began in mid December, 300,000 people have been displaced within Idlib, said Moumtzis.

Syria's government has vehemently denied ever deploying chemical weapons in the country's seven-year war.

Turkish troops launched "Operation Olive Branch" on January 20 in a bid to remove the YPG militia from Syria's northwestern region of Afrin.

Turkey and Russian Federation have no disagreements over Ankara's air and ground offensive into northern Syria's Afrin region and the two countries are in close contact over the operation, the Turkish foreign minister said on Tuesday. In the pretext of fighting terror, Turkey is actually targeting the Kurdish population.

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