Airstrikes outside Syrian capital kill at least 45 civilians

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan addresses members of parliament from his ruling AK Party during a meeting at the Turkish parliament in Ankara Turkey

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan addresses members of parliament from his ruling AK Party during a meeting at the Turkish parliament in Ankara Turkey

At least 136 civilians have been killed in the last 48 hours as government forces from Russian Federation and Syria conducted an intensified bombardment of Eastern Ghouta, a suburb of the capital Damascus.

The air strikes have hit residential areas, medical centres and markets.

The U.N. called for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire on Tuesday to allow aid workers to access the embattled areas in order to provide emergency supplies and to carry out medical evacuations.

US Ambassador Nikki Haley told the council there was "obvious evidence from dozens of victims" to corroborate the chlorine attacks in rebel-held Eastern Ghouta. Bombings killed an additional 80 people on Tuesday, according to the latest Civil Defense statistics.

The White Helmets said three of its rescuers and six other people suffered breathing problems.

In Idleb, the military operations resulted in increased casualties and movement of civilians to safer areas. "We don't know what to say".

In response, Syrian state media called the USA attack an "aggression" and a "new massacre", the AP writes.

While UN officials say hundreds of thousands of people have been killed in the conflict, regime officials say the death toll is closer to 10,000. The region has been under intense attack since the end of December as Bashar Assad struggles to bring it under control.

The death toll in Thursday's strikes mounted steadily throughout the day, with the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights giving 67 civilians killed by the evening.

At least 34 civilians, including 12 children and a woman, were killed in Eastern Ghouta, a rebel enclave on the outskirts of the capital, Damascus, on Wednesday, according to monitoring groups and activists.

Syrian air defense on Wednesday destroyed most of Israeli missiles targeting military position in the countryside of Damascus.

Warplanes have bombed a number of towns in the region, causing buildings to collapse on residents.

Russia's military bases in western Syria were also hit last month in a series of drone attacks, challenging Moscow's gains in the country still torn by conflict.

In a letter addressed to the United Nations Secretary General, the Syrian foreign ministry said the attack "represents a war crime and a crime against humanity". The ongoing fighting and deliberate obstructions by forces were preventing aid organizations from reaching civilians, it said.

Both areas were meant to be two of several "de-escalation zones" agreed upon a year ago by Russia, Iran - both government allies - and Turkey - a backer of the armed opposition.

"What is happening in eastern Ghouta is not simply a humanitarian crisis because aid is denied, these sieges involve the worldwide crimes of indiscriminate bombardment and deliberate starvation of the civilian population", stated Mr. Pinheiro.

The official says the strikes were in self-defence after the pro-government forces began firing artillery and tank rounds at the US -backed Syrian Democratic Forces.

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