Middle East

Syria crisis: Army strikes kill 23 in Eastern Ghouta - monitor

A man stands on the rubble of damaged buildings after an air strike on the rebel-held town of Mesraba in Eastern Ghouta, Syria. Photo: 26 November 2017 Image copyright Reuters
Image caption More than 120 people are reported to have been killed in Eastern Ghouta in the last two weeks

At least 23 people have been killed in attacks by Syrian government troops on a rebel-held enclave on the outskirts of Damascus, a monitoring group says.

The UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) said several towns in Eastern Ghouta were hit by air strikes and artillery fire.

Meanwhile, Syria's state-run media said four people were injured in a rocket attack on Damascus's al-Midan area.

Neither of the two reports have been independently verified.

On Sunday, the SOHR said that children were among the victims of the government attacks in Eastern Ghouta.

It said that more than 120 people have been killed since the Syrian army began its offensive on the rebel enclave nearly two weeks ago.

After years of siege, conditions for Eastern Ghouta's 400,000 residents are dire.

In a report last week, the UN said food was so scarce some residents had been reduced to eating animal fodder and even garbage.

Several people are reported to have died of starvation.

Eastern Ghouta is one of several "de-escalation" zones in Syria announced by Russia, Iran and Turkey earlier this year.

In a separate development, Russia, a key ally of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, said its warplanes carried out air strikes on positions of Islamic State (IS) militants in the eastern province of Deir al-Zour.

It said IS strongholds and a number of militants were hit.

Earlier this month, Syria announced that its troops had retaken control of Deir al-Zour - the last IS stronghold in the country.

UN-backed peace talks are expected to resume in Geneva next week, but several previous rounds of negotiations have failed.

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