Russian anger after US-led coalition in Syria strikes pro-Assad fighters

Fighting in Syria

Fighting in Syria

The agency described the strikes as being an act of "aggression".

Observatory chief Rami Abdel Rahman said few rebels were among the dead because they rarely left their tunnels and had better protection from air strikes than civilians, estimated to number around 4,00,000 in Ghouta.

"We would like to see a cease-fire, the end of the war, but the terrorists, I am not sure, are in agreement", he said.

The UN humanitarian coordinator for Syria, Panos Moumtzis, had called for the ceasefire to allow aid convoys to reach civilians in Eastern Ghouta.

The UN mission in Damascus warned of "dire consequences" to the humanitarian crises in Syria, identifying seven areas needing urgent relief. Siraj Mahmoud of the Syrian Civil Defense, also known as White Helmets, said 58 people were killed.

US State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert also raised the alarm Thursday over the "escalating violence in Idlib, the Damascus suburbs of Eastern Ghouta, and other areas of Syria threatened by ongoing regime and Russian airstrikes".

On Wednesday, French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said "all indications" pointed to the Syrian government's use of chlorine weapons.

Ankara argues the US-backed Kurdish forces are a "terrorist organization" and has been incensed by Washington's support for the YPG. The proximity of the SSRC facility to the location of the attack makes sense, as the Syrian government has been accused of dropping chlorine bombs on rebel-held areas in the country six times in the past month.

As it is last rebel-held district on the capital's doorstep, the government is more determined than ever to clear Eastern Ghouta, said Nick Heras, an analyst at the Center for New American Security.

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. It said the dead includes a medic and at least 10 children.

An estimated 400,000 people live under a suffocating government-imposed siege, which has made food and medicine almost impossible to access.

More than 100 pro-regime fighters were killed, the official added.

"This morning, Israeli warplanes fired several missiles from Lebanese airspace on one of our military positions in the Damascus countryside", said a Syrian military statement carried by state media.

That deal has unravelled with a broad government offensive in Idlib province in Syria's north-west and eastern Ghouta, two of the last major strongholds of the opposition fighting Assad.

Meanwhile, the BBC reported that Syrian Kurdish fighters captured the last two members of an Islamic State cell that, according to USA officials, had beheaded over 27 Western hostages. At least 169 civilians have been killed since Monday.

Russia's U.N. Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia says he will raise the US -led coalition's deadly airstrike on Syrian government-backed troops during closed consultations later Thursday in the U.N. Security Council.

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