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Syrian Forces Intensify Attacks On Rebel Pocket Near Damascus


A photo shows what appears to be white phosphorus incendiaries landing during Syrian bombardment in Douma last month.

The Syrian army and allies have intensified shelling and air raids on the town of Douma in eastern Ghouta, a day after air strikes killed at least 40 people in the last rebel holdout near Damascus.

Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said on April 7 that at least 30 air raids have been mounted by Syrian and Russian warplanes on Douma since midnight.

According to the Britain-based war monitor, helicopters dropped at least 25 barrels packed with explosives on Douma in the first half of the day. The Observatory said at least eight civilians were killed in the attacks.

The AFP news agency quoted a civil defense worker inside Douma as saying the bombing was still continuing in the morning on April 7.

"The bombing still hasn't stopped. There are three warplanes in the sky and two helicopters," Firas al-Dumi told AFP.

Syrian state television broadcast live footage of air raids over Douma, showing billowing clouds of smoke over the town.

On April 6, government forces and allies targeted Douma with heavy air strikes and ground attacks, after 10 days of calm in the town.

At least 40 civilians were killed in Douma on April 6, the Observatory said.

State news agency SANA said the attacks were retaliation for the shelling of nearly government-held areas by rebels from Jaish al-Islam, which controls Douma.

Thousands of people left Douma in recent days under a Russian-mediated deal, but the evacuations were suspended on April 5.

The military offensive by Syrian government forces and their allies, which involved weeks of intense bombardment, has left more than 1,600 civilians dead and thousands more wounded in eastern Ghouta since February 18, according to the Observatory.

Based on reporting by AFP, dpa, AP, the BBC
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