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Death, Exodus As Two Syria Assaults Escalate


Syrians from the rebel-held eastern Ghouta region, just outside Damascus, walk through a regime-controlled corridor in Hamuria on March 16.

Air strikes killed dozens of civilians in eastern Ghouta on March 16 and forced thousands more to flee, as Syrian troops continued their offensive on the last rebel stronghold near Damascus.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said at least 80 civilians were killed in Russian air strikes on the southwestern Ghouta pocket on March 16.

The latest reported deaths brought the toll for the nearly month-old offensive to 1,350.

Another deadly assault is also unfolding in the north, where Turkish-led forces pressed an operation to seize the Kurdish-majority region of Afrin.

The operation has sent thousands onto the roads, with bombing on the city of Afrin on March 16 killing 36 people and hitting the main hospital.

The Observatory said 15,000 had fled Afrin on March 16 in fear that a Turkish advance would cut the last exit road.

The monitor said a Turkish strike on March 16 hit Afrin's hospital, killing nine people and damaging the already-strapped facility.

That brought to 36 -- at least 27 of them civilians -- the death toll in the bombardment of the town on March 16, according to the Observatory.

Based on reporting by AFP, AP, Reuters, and dpa
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